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Survey will gauge Hays housing needs

1/14/2014

By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT

mkenwright@dailynews.net

A free chili dinner to gauge the housing problem in Hays will be at 4 p.m. Jan. 25 at National Guard Armory, 200 Main.

Hays Housing Coalition, a committee composed of groups throughout northwest Kansas, has organized the initiative. Several local groups are collaborating to distribute a housing survey throughout the community, and a dinner is an opportunity to reach more people, organizers said.

The Ellis County Ministerial Alliance is supporting the dinner, and attendees can receive underwear, socks and toiletries.

"It's important to the community of Hays because unless we have the data about the housing in Hays, whether that is, you know, people are struggling to find housing that's affordable or people are not able to afford a place to rent so they're staying with friends ... we can't really talk about how best to meet those needs," said Linda Mills, executive director of First Call for Help.

A survey last year found one person in the area did not have permanent housing, but the true number might be larger.

"We don't think that's an accurate reflection of the community," Mills said. "We believe there are probably more than that, but how many we don't know."

Volunteers can join the effort and help at the dinner or hand out surveys at Walmart, Hays Public Library or The Mall in Hays. Training to conduct a survey must be completed before Jan. 23. The Hays Police Department also will distribute surveys.

The initiative will last from Jan. 23 to Jan. 30. For more information, call Mills at (785) 623-2800.