Homelessness is a growing problem around the county and Kansas City is no exception.
The number of homeless families in our city is increasing, but one Jackson County program is hoping to turn that around.
"Santa Claus came down here today and wanted to give you the keys to your new home," said Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders.
Latoya Caldwell and her four children have been homeless for more than a year and a half, but Thursday that changed.
"Thank you all so much... it's been a long time," said Latoya Caldwell while tears streamed down her face.
Caldwell was surprised by Sanders with a new home. It was made possible through a program designed with three goals in mind: Rehabilitate vacant homes, provide that home to a homeless family and help create new jobs for those some thought to be unemployable.
"It means a lot to me. It's got a good foundation and they can just build up from there," said Rodney Mayweather, who was formerly incarcerated but helped build Caldwell's home.
For Caldwell, it's a dream come true.
"Right now it's not reality for the kids. They're just like, ‘oh my goodness, what's going on?'" she said.
Jackson County Constructing Futures was founded in 2008 and this is the fifth home they've given away.
Most of the funds for the project come from area partnerships. The group says it's the perfect combination to rehabilitate old homes, keep tax dollars flowing in the city and get homeless families off the streets.
"You look at just the Ivanhoe neighborhood right here, 40 percent of the housing stock, that's hundreds of homes, are currently unoccupied. They've got good bones, with just a little bit of money we can rehab those homes," Sanders said.
In all two area homeless families got new homes Thursday. It's a feeling they might have never known.
"I think my home is beautiful," Caldwell shouted with joy.
Neither family knew they were getting a new home. They will have to live in it for seven years to officially keep the home.
Click here for more information on the Jackson County Constructing Futures program and how you can get involved.
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