Faces of Kansas City: Helping families out of homelessness - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Faces of Kansas City: Program helping families get out of homeless rut

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Have you ever had one of those months where paying rent or making your mortgage payment seems nearly impossible? Sadly, there are many families in the Kansas City metro that struggle with that problem every month.

Travis and Melissa Perkins admit they don't have much right now, but they were kind enough to show KCTV5's Brad Stephens their temporary home in a hotel.

"We literally sleep side by side, we're within arms distance of each other 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Travis Perkins said.

There's not a lot of space in their hotel room for their daughter Madison to play in. But they're not complaining. They appreciate what they have, even though they've been living in Kansas City-area hotels ever since they lost their house last year in the Branson, MO, tornado.

"We just never seem to get enough money together. A part-time job or even two part-time jobs, minimum wage don't cut it and, right now, the situation we're in, that's about the best we can ever hope for. I hate to say it, but we do the best we can," Travis Perkins said.

The Perkins story is a familiar one to John Wiley.

"These are broken people and when I say broken, they're suffering from discouragement, depression. You live in a one room motel with your kids sleeping on the floor for three years and see if you don't struggle with some depression," said Wiley, the founder of River of Refuge.

Wiley, the lead pastor of River Church Family in Raytown, MO, has been working for years to help families who seem to get stuck living in motels.

"It can be from a job loss, the loss of a home. It can even be for medical reasons - they become bankrupt but, once they get in, it's a trap," Wiley said.

Wiley's solution has been a massive undertaking. It's a transitional housing project called River of Refuge. His group bought the old Park Lane Hospital in Raytown and are converting what used to be hospital rooms into brand new apartments.

"I saw a way that, if I could get that facility, my families could move in, eat for free, live for free and save first month's and last month's security deposit and get out of this mess they're in," Wiley said.

While work continues at a feverish pace to open the first apartments at River of Refuge, Wiley has been busy helping families "trapped" in motels.

"I was at a point where I was thinking, ‘maybe we was going to have to sleep in my car. How are we going to eat?'" Shanta Wallace said.

River of Refuge helped Wallace and her kids in renting a house.

"This is heaven to us, all we see is it getting better and better," Wallace said.

Wiley is also working with the Perkins family to help them move into a home.

"It's not much, a one-bedroom house, but right now a one bedroom house compared to this would seem like a mansion to us so yes, I see light at the end of the tunnel," Travis Perkins said.

Wiley said of all the families River of Refuge has already helped, not one has slipped back into homelessness.

The new apartments being built in the old Park Lane Hospital should be ready for families to move in sometime in the next few months.

Click here for River of Refuge's website.

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.)  All rights reserved.

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