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2 formerly unhoused Kansas Citians on how they survived the winter

While most people stay indoors during the dangerously cold winter weather, some unhoused people remain in outside in the elements.
Nam Y. Huh/AP
While most people stay indoors during the dangerously cold winter weather, some unhoused people remain in outside in the elements.

Each winter for nearly four years, Monique Litchman and Jeffrey Dungan each navigated life in Kansas City without a place to call home. At times, refuge was a homeless shelter, but sometimes, they stayed outside in the dangerously cold elements.

Monique Litchman was unfamiliar with what resources were available around Kansas City when she ended up homeless. She spent nearly four years bouncing between living on the street, hospitalizations and staying in shelters.

Navigating those early days, Litchman says she turned to prayer, and described not knowing what was to come or where to get supplies as "scary."

"I was walking in a snowstorm around the Crossroads area, and I had no blanket. I don't believe I had a warm coat," Litchman told KCUR's Up To Date. "And I actually ended up finding a blanket in the trees."

"The first winter was awful," Litchman said.

When Jeffrey Dungan ended up without a home, he turned to the City Union Mission.

"As a place to stay overnight, it was great to have," Dungan said.

But after year, Dungan — who is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and social anxiety — could no longer stay at the Mission.

"They were feeling that I was not making enough progress and trying to find a place on my own," Dungan said.

As the winter season approached, Dungan began camping outside with friends he'd made. They built a fire within their tent to keep warm.

"I'm not a camper guy by nature, but my friends were, so they were pretty good with knowing what to do, how to build a fire, how to keep an eye on it so it wouldn't get too big and burn the shelter down," Dungan said.

Both Litchman and Dungan have now found employment and housing.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
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