Thirteen percent of people served by Wichita’s Union Rescue Mission have experienced violence in the last year, according to 183 clients recently surveyed by the organization.
That compares with 19 percent of 16,842 people surveyed nationally by the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions. The missions are faith-based organizations that provide shelter, meals, spiritual help and some training and other help to people in need, many of them homeless.
The missions survey people they serve every fall. Wichita’s mission, 2800 N. Hillside, released its numbers alongside national numbers this past week.
It gives a snapshot picture of some of the demographics of Wichita homeless, and some of the issues they face, said Denny Bender, executive director of the Union Rescue Mission in Wichita. Bender, in a statement with the survey results, said that 105 missions across North America took part in the national survey.
According to the surveys, 57 percent of the people questioned are white in Wichita; 49 percent are white in the national survey. Thirty-three percent are African-American in Wichita; 32 percent in the national numbers. Four percent are Hispanic in Wichita; 11 percent are Hispanic nationally.
Forty-five percent of the 183 people questioned in Wichita had a high school diploma or equivalent; 39 percent nationally. Twenty-four percent had some college education in Wichita; 30 percent nationally.
The largest age group served: ages 46-65. Fifty-six percent of the Wichitans surveyed fit that group. Nationally, 41 percent fit that age group.
More than 14 percent were military veterans in Wichita; more than 11 percent nationally.
“In Wichita, we work closely with veterans to make sure they receive the services available to them,” Bender said in a statement. “We honor their service by our service to them.”
In both surveys, 79 percent of those surveyed said they prefer to have the spiritual emphasis they encounter at the rescue missions. Several of the men served in the Wichita mission show up for the nightly chapel service carrying their own Bibles.
Union Rescue Mission provides beds and meals to an average of 130 to 140 people a night, Bender said. It also provides a 12-month “New Beginnings” training program, coaching and teaching them how to break the cycle of homelessness and addiction.
The Union Rescue Mission’s $1.6 million annual budget comes entirely from donors, Bender said.