COLUMBIA – Boone County is the leader in Mid-Missouri for homelessness, most of whom are sheltered.
Rainbow House is a shelter in Columbia for homeless children, teens and young adults. Mark Kirchhoff is the Homeless Youth Program coordinator at Rainbow House. The rate of homeless children, teens and young adults in Boone county ranges from 180 to 220, Kirchhoff said. The number is hard to identify because kids do not want to admit they are homeless for fear of foster care or other consequences, Kirchhoff continued.
Rainbow Houses offers a wide range of programs such as: crisis care, child advocacy, emergency shelter and homeless youth. The difference between the other programs and the program Mark coordinates is that the Homeless Youth Program is for the “transition” ages, 16 to 21 years old, Kirchhoff said.
The teens and young adults in the Homeless Youth Program stay at Rainbow House for about 18 months, Kirchhoff said.
“I love seeing that breakthrough moment,” Kirchhoff said.
He recalled a recent memory where a young woman was staying in the house and needed to find employment. She was not allowed to stay in the house unless she found employment. Kirchhoff said they were close to asking her to leave until she came up to him and said she had a job interview. Now Kirchhoff is helping her practice for her interview.
As Boone county leads in homelessness, there are shelters and volunteers happy to help them get back on their feet.