Callaway County homeless shelter sees increase in overnight stays

Oct 2, 2013

Wiley House
Credit United Way of Callaway County

A record set at one Callaway County homeless shelter could reflect a bigger problem.

Wiley House, a shelter for homeless adult men and women, had a record number of individuals stay overnight in July and August. Executive Director Brad Sheppard said the shelter has seen an increase every year since it opened in 2009, but he still didn’t expect such high numbers.

“You know it just really jumped up from 8 a night to 11 a night,” Sheppard said. “That was the average, so that meant that some nights we were seeing as many as 15 or 16. Which is sort of getting pretty close to our capacity which is 18.”

Sheppard said it was unusual to see such a big increase during summer instead of winter. He thinks community knowledge about Wiley House and an increase in homelessness in Callaway County and central Missouri contributed to the increase.

Deputy Director of the Fulton Housing Authority Bruce Carpenter agrees the increase in homelessness is a likely factor.

“I know we did an estimated survey probably about 18 months ago, and we were looking at probably as many as 200 individuals in the City of Fulton were homeless at any one time,” Carpenter said.

Both Sheppard and Carpenter cite a lack of affordable housing for single individuals in the area as a possible cause for the increase in homelessness. Carpenter says the waiting list for single bedroom units is six months to a year because they don’t turn over as often as two or three bedroom units for families.