"It's not by choice, you know, but I've been having a run of pretty bad luck," said Kenny. It's an issue Wichita's mayor wants to work on, the city's growing homeless problem. And Wichita Police have a new way to help this year.
Kenny basically lives in this corner just outside the Wichita Library downtown. He's surrounded by everything he owns.
"You can actually get used to almost anything," said Kenny.
He's not alone. From 2009 to 2011 the number of homeless in Wichita practically doubled, going from 384 to 634 according to police. Kenny's been on the streets for nearly twenty years, but says this isn't where he wants to be.
"A lot of people don't want to be out here," Kenny said. "I mean, there are some that love it. But a lot of people don't want to be out here."
That's why dozens of Wichita police officers gathered at union headquarters Wednesday learning about a new program called HOT, Homeless Outreach Team. It's designed to help people in trouble through personal relationships.
"They're going to have to start trusting us and the only way we're going to do that is to form those bonds through those relationships that's going to make them want to step up and change the way they do things," said Sergeant Brett Stull of the Wichita Police.
Police are learning that's not easy. It takes a lot of interaction to build up that trust.
"With some people it's 70 or 75 times before we can get them to at least trust or want to make that first step," said Stull.
That's what the city's new Homeless Outreach Team is for.
"Officers are dealing with homeless people and/or issues involving the homeless on a daily basis," said Stull. "So it only makes sense that they'd be the first to make that contact."
"We're underneath those bridges, we're in places maybe some people don't want to go," added Officer Nate Schwiethal, who saw the homeless problem everyday while patrolling downtown. He went in search of a solution and ended up starting this new police outreach program, based on a in internationally award winning program debuted in Colorado Springs in 2009.
"We're not out here to arrest homeless. In fact it's the complete opposite. We're trying to keep them out of the jails," said Schwiethal.
Team members will do that by first building relationships, then matching the homeless up with the help they need from various aid agencies throughout the city.
"They're talking about putting me up in an apartment now," said Kenny. "But there'll still be a lot more homeless people out here."
The Homeless Outreach Team will be there, too.
"They'll work, you know, seven days a week, if necessary," said Stull.
The program isn't costing the city any extra money. So far it's just two officers who are specially detailed to handle all homeless issues that come up. The city will apply for grants if any additional funding is needed in the future.