(Lee’s Summit, MO) – In the early morning hours of July 14, 2020, one of the resident buildings on Hillcrest Transitional Housing’s Lee’s Summit campus caught fire. While all residents were evacuated safely and eventually relocated to other Hillcrest units, the building located at 505 SW Mission Road was a total loss. Hillcrest provided trauma counseling and case management to ensure that the fire had as little impact on the affected families as possible, but the organization’s ability to serve 12 additional families each year went up in flames.
This week, Hillcrest took a major step toward rebuilding by pouring the foundation for a new building that will include four housing units for families seeking to overcome homelessness. These units will be part of Hillcrest’s flagship 90-day transitional housing program 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 strictly adhere to an “all needs, no wants” budget plan while paying down debts and building up savings.
“The fire was devastating in the moment, but a reminder that Hillcrest is about much more than the walls we provide. Hillcrest is about resiliency,” said Tom Lally, President and CEO. “When we poured the new foundation on Monday, we did more than just jumpstart the rebuilding process. We laid the foundation for success for the homeless families we’ll serve for years to come.”
Mark and Erica McGowan and their three children are one such family impacted by the work of Hillcrest to solve homelessness in Kansas City. The McGowans were residents in the 505 SW Mission Road building when it caught fire. They were relocated to another Hillcrest unit, able to rebuild what was lost, and successfully completed Hillcrest’s rigorous program. Today, they are self-sufficient with stable housing, their careers have taken steps forward, and their children completed the school year with good grades.
“We are so incredibly grateful to Hillcrest for the love and support that we have and still continue to receive,” said Erica McGowan.
Hillcrest estimates that the rebuild effort will cost $750,000. Insurance money will cover approximately one-third of the cost, with the remaining funds raised by grants and community donations. Those wishing to contribute can learn more or contribute at www.hillcrestkc.org/rebuild505.
“The circumstances of the fire knocked us back a little,” said Lally. “However, we’re moving forward with determination to persevere. We’re practicing the very thing we preach to the families we serve, and our future is very bright.”
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, visit www.hillcrestkc.org or call (816) 994-6934.