June 29, 2019

On a rainy evening, a young resident at Hillcrest Transitional Housing sits on a back porch where his device is able to connect to the wireless network in the organization’s office building.

His temporary Hillcrest apartment is not equipped with wi-fi connectivity, leaving him few options for online access. He represents one of 43 families without wi-fi access at Hillcrest’s Kansas City, Kansas campus. Hillcrest is working to change that by raising approximately $20,000 to turn that residential site into a “smart campus,” which would include wi-fi hot spots.

“As an organization, we are committed to closing the digital gap for our residents and families,” said Tom Lally, President and CEO of Hillcrest. “It is about more than just fairness – it is about solving homelessness by equipping, training, and providing resources so that our clients can become self-sufficient.”

Hillcrest provides transitional housing and other programs that combat homelessness by building the self-sufficiency of families. Its flagship program is a 90-day timeframe in which clients receive rent- and utility-free housing. In exchange for housing, clients agree to follow program guidelines, find and maintain full-time employment, attend life skills classes, participate in community living, and follow a budget plan.

“If we are able to upgrade the technology of our campuses, we will be able to offer our residents and their families the same digital freedom that others enjoy,” said Cotton Sivils, Hillcrest’s Vice President of Development. “When we are able to do that, grades will improve and futures will be brightened.”

Equipping low-income individuals and families with the technology tools they need improves their ability to pursue employment, access essential services, and engage in lifelong learning. According to Digital Inclusion KC, a collaborative group focused on fostering internet access and digital readiness in greater Kansas City, 25% of Kansas City residents do not have broadband at home; 28% of non-users cite access as the main reason they are unable to get online.

“This effort will particularly impact the students and young adults we serve,” said Lally. “Greater access to high speed internet and updated hardware will help our youth complete their homework, participate in online courses, apply for jobs, and much more.”

In order to accomplish its goal, Hillcrest is seeking financial support the community. Contributions toward Hillcrest’s technology initiative can be made at www.hillcrestkc.org/donate. Businesses, civic groups, faith communities, or other funders may also contact Sivils at sivilsc@hillcrestkc.org for additional giving options.

“Hillcrest serves the community by serving its most vulnerable population. We invite anyone interested in helping those in need become self-sustaining to join in our efforts,” said Lally. “Together we can solve homelessness in Kansas City.”

Hillcrest serves youth, individuals, and families throughout the greater Kansas City region through its five residential sites in Johnson and Wyandotte Counties in Kansas and Jackson County in Missouri. Hillcrest also provides rapid re-housing services in Kansas City’s Northland and in Northwest Missouri. To learn more about Hillcrest Transitional Housing or support the organization’s work with a financial gift, visit www.hillcrestkc.org.