New downtown Franklin location proves positive for KIC-IT

Homelessness is a hidden issue in Johnson County, hiding from public sight as people sleep in their cars, on friends’ couches and in hotels.

But for one of the main agencies addressing the problem, they wanted to be anything but unseen.

KIC-IT, the nonprofit organization providing resources to homeless youth, has moved to a new home that’s hard to miss. The headquarters located in the heart of downtown Franklin, along one of the city’s busiest streets, has provided the agency with a visibility and central location that has been invaluable.

As KIC-IT staff and volunteers continue to chip away at homelessness in the county, the new location offers benefits they’ve never enjoyed before.

“The exposure here, I just can’t pay for it,” said Thom Hord, executive director of KIC-IT. “Even before we were able to get our logos and things on the windows, people were seeing it.”

KIC-IT — which stands for Kids in Transition Intervention Team — was created in 2011 as the need for homeless youth services became more evident in Johnson County. The organization provides individualized programs and support for youth, ages 16-25, to help break the cycle of homelessness by assisting them in making sustainable life change.

A drop-in center allows young people experiencing homelessness to access laundry facilities, showers, computer work stations and kitchen. They can pick up food and hygiene items, as well as use the center as a safe space to meet with KIC-IT staff and volunteers.

The organization’s Youth Ally for Homeless Education and Prevention works in Center Grove, Whiteland and Indian Creek high schools identifying students at risk of dropping out or becoming homeless, and works with school staff to coach them and get them help.

Programs range from providing transitional housing to offering coaching to find safe and stable housing, financial stability, and sustainable life skills.

“We want to make sure they’re getting all that they need, and in a year’s time when they’ve graduated our program, they’ve gone on to live on their own with the budgets we’ve created, with the health care we’ve helped them get, all of the things that go along with the struggles that go along with the situation that they’re in,” Hord said.

Since 2021, KIC-IT has been operating out of a space attached to the Interchurch Food Pantry on Commerce Drive on the north side of Franklin. But when Hord was named executive director in 2023, he worked with the organization’s board of directors to find a location better suited to serve its mission.

“When I took over in September, I really wanted to do a complete re-boot of the organization, get back to the basics of what KIC-IT originally was,” he said. “Part of the plan was to get us into a place that gave us the opportunity for people to pop in and see us. Where we were at before was tough to find.”

Their search commenced to find a downtown Franklin location. A staff member learned that a storefront at 104 W. Jefferson St., which had formerly housed Frozen Paradise, was available. Hord contacted the owner of the building quickly, and they were able to secure it. In early March, they held an open house for the community.

Though the costs to rent the space is slightly more than their previous home, the added attention on KIC-IT has helped balance it out, Hord said.

“We pay just an uptick more to be here, but we felt it was still fair because of exposure. I can’t ever pay for that,” he said.

The new location was just one effort to raise the profile of KIC-IT. They designed a new logo, which nods to the organization’s commitment to helping others, education and finding shelter. Their social media has drawn increased attention.

Staff members and volunteers have embraced an emphasis on addressing curiosity about homelessness, then harnessing that to drive action on the issue.

“Be curious and not judgmental. We want people to be curious about teen homelessness, we want people to be curious about how they can help with that. But don’t be judgmental about who they are and what’s going on and the situation they’re in,” Hord said.

Already, the new location has led to questions, both in person and on social media, by people who happen to see their office. During the Franklin Eclipse Festival in early April, both local residents and out-of-town visitors inquired as to what their organization did.

Hord anticipates generating even more awareness as the weather warms and more downtown Franklin events draw people.

That attention will only help KIC-IT in its mission to reduce homelessness.

“We hope to have a lot more exposure from that standpoint,” he said. “I’m a big collaboration guy; I love to work with other agencies and other people on how we can make things better. There are businesses and people here in town looking for something to do, and don’t know who to contact. We want to be a part of that.”



What: A nonprofit focused on individualized programs & support for youth, ages 16-25, in breaking the cycle of homelessness.

Where: 104 W. Jefferson St., Franklin

Services: Coaching, transitional housing, a drop-in center and more.