WPD Homeless Outreach Team receives $1,200 Helping Hand

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WICHITA, Kan. There are a lot of organizations that go out of their way to help people who are down and out on their luck.

The Wichita Police Department has a group of officers who quietly spend their day helping the homeless, and they do it without using your tax dollars.

Wichita Police Officer Nate Schwiethale has been with the Homeless Outreach Team since it began five years ago.

The goal of the three officers on the team is to respond to all 911 calls dealing with those who are homeless.

"We also work to try to keep the homeless out of the jail system and refer them to the programs that are already out there trying to help them," said Officer Schwiethale.

Transportation can be a roadblock for the homeless. That's why they started a bus program.

"If they get a job and we can confirm that, we'll give them a week's worth of bus tickets until they get their first paycheck," said Officer Schwiethale.

That program will even pay for a bus ticket to another state if the person has family and a job waiting.

Between these programs, along with other odds and ends, they spend about $1,000 a month on helping the homeless. All of that made possible through community donations. No tax dollars are used.

"The community has been very supportive for us the past five years. It's been amazing," said Officer Schwiethale.

Knowing the team relies on outside donations, Eyewitness News and DeVaughn James Injury Lawyers decided to lend a Helping Hand and gave them $1,200 to help continue their mission to help the homeless in the community.

"Wow. That's amazing," said Officer Schwiethale. "That'd be great. That'd be great."

In the past five years, they've helped about 900 homeless people get off the street and into perminant or transitional housing. That's a 72 percent decrease in chronic homelessness.

It was under that achievement Officer Schwiethale met with Dustin DeVaughn and Richard James.

"Officer, thanks for the great work that you do with our Wichita people in need," said DeVaughn. "Thanks a lot, I appreciate it. We rely on private donations so this is greatly appreciated. We'll put it to good use to help our homeless population," said Schwiethale.