Joseph Shepard and Claire McCaskill of the Shepard McCaskill Foundation

Joseph Shepard and former U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill of the Shepard McCaskill Foundation.

Soon, affordable housing and recovery supports for women and children in Kansas City, MO will nearly double thanks in part to new funding from the Shepard McCaskill Foundation. In December 2023, the Foundation announced that Amethyst Place was one of a handful of nonprofits across the state to receive a multi-year investment.

Founded in 2000 in Kansas City’s urban core, Amethyst Place is a long-term supportive housing program for women and children recovering from generational substance use, poverty, and trauma. Through 37 apartments and two-generation wraparound supports, the organization inspires transformational healing and empowers generations of women and children to achieve recovery, reunification, and resilience. With a substance use recovery rate of 98%, Amethyst Place’s outcomes are more than double the national average.

The Shepard McCaskill Foundation is a private family foundation led by Joseph Shepard and former U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill. The Foundation’s funding strengthens nonprofit organizations that impact sustainable, meaningful, and beneficial changes in the life trajectories of Missourians. This year, the Foundation announced a new, multi-year investment to support organizations working with Missourians affected by intimate partner violence, substance use, involvement with the legal system, and other environmental factors.

McCaskill has shown steadfast support for substance use recovery throughout her public service career, which includes launching a Senate investigation into the role of opioid manufacturers and distributors in the opioid crisis. During her time as Jackson County Prosecutor in the mid ‘90s, she advocated for the development of the Jackson County Drug Court (now Treatment Court), which was just the second county in the nation to begin such a court for those with substance use disorders and non-violent offenses. The Jackson County Treatment Court continues to change the trajectories of Jackson County residents’ lives, including many women who have come through Amethyst Place. Continuing this commitment to recovery, Amethyst Place was selected for the Foundation’s substance use recovery emphasis, receiving a two-year award of $550,000 to extend its reach.

“We are thrilled to partner with Amethyst Place to help expand their already solid work with Kansas City area moms and their kids. It is exactly the kind of organization we want our Foundation to support,” said Shepard and McCaskill. “The connections between the staff and the moms run deep, and truly nurture their commitment to a new path. The day we visited Amethyst Place really moved us, instilling hope in what can happen with a shared respect for everyone’s journey.”

This investment provides a significant boost to Amethyst Place’s $16 million supportive housing expansion project, which is now 74% funded. A block east of its current campus, construction is underway to build 32 more units of housing, along with community programming space, offices for on-site services, and greenspace for families to play. Construction began in summer 2023 and is expected to finish by the end of 2024. Once complete, Amethyst Place will have 70 units in total and serve an estimated 350 women and children annually – an expansion that is desperately needed

“Sadly, our average waitlist holds about 50 families,” said Starla Wulf Brennan, Executive Director. “Most families wait a year before they can move in. During this time, mom is unhoused and most children are separated in foster care. Imagine all the trauma endured and the potential stifled during this devastating wait.”

Through the expansion, new families experiencing houselessness will be able to move in quicker and current families will be able to stay longer, investing the time necessary for sustainable change. In the long-term, doubled capacity will transform even more generations. By reunifying families, Amethyst Place not only reduces continued trauma and the negative impacts of foster care placement, but it also produces significant cost savings to the foster care system. By stabilizing families’ housing and income, Amethyst Place reduces the prevalence of houselessness and associated costs. By addressing substance use and mental health, Amethyst Place reduces the societal consequences of unmanaged mental health and substance use disorders. Because of its two-generational approach, these outcomes are multiplied for an even longer lasting impact.

With just over $4 million left to raise, the project still needs community support to reach its fundraising goal. To learn more and invest in affordable housing creation and recovery support for women and children, visit https://amethystplace.org/get-involved/growap/.