Homelessness: Growing and Spreading in Shawnee County

Families, young people and couch surfing, all make up the new reality of American homelessness.

Advocacy groups say it’s growing and spreading to places closer to home than one might think. We know this because once a year, volunteers take a census of homeless people in Topeka and Shawnee County. Volunteers ask people where they slept last night and if they’re homeless, they ask more questions.

The answers give a better picture of demographics for the homeless and most importantly, volunteers can assess if some people are eligible for certain services.

Couch surfing can be romanticized as something college kids do for a while, but now it’s getting real attention. It’s federally recognized as a type of homelessness.

Organizers expect a final tally in a couple of weeks.

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