Kansas City is working to create more sheltering options for the unhoused as temperatures begin to drop. The Housing and Community Development Department conservatively estimates that there are 1,700 to 2,000 unhoused people in Kansas City, with an increase expected in the next year.
To keep the unhoused safe this winter, city council approved a $650,000 contract with existing agencies and services, including community centers to provide extreme winter weather services for the houseless population.
The city is also putting $300,000 toward the creation of 34 affordable housing units for houseless and low-income single mothers at Amethyst Place. Construction will start next year and could be completed in 2023.
Working to connect the unhoused with more permanent housing solutions, the city council has issued a proposal for a hotel conversion project to convert the Days Inn Hotel at 5100 Linwood Blvd. into 100 transitional units. The $1.3 million project will help transition clients into affordable housing, with wrap around services provided by Lotus Care House.
The city is also proposing a $1 million tiny home transitional housing project with Hope Faith Homeless Assistance Campus and Merging KC. The project will support 30 pallet-style tiny homes neighboring Hope Faith, which is located at 705 Virginia Ave., near The Paseo and Admiral Boulevard. The site will have 24-hour security services, bathrooms, water and laundry services onsite. Case workers, counselors and employment assistance will also be available.
The city will continue implementing the Extreme Weather Activation Plan, which enacts when the daytime high is below 32 degrees, or the overnight low is less than 20 degrees. The activation will include:
– KCMO Emergency Operations Center opens a hotline to coordinate shelter bed availability.
– Ride KC offers free bus rides to shelters and people can warm up on the heated buses.
– When shelters are full, the city will open one or two temporary overflow locations based on need.
“The community’s input has been so important in creating new and better policies,” said Fifth District Councilmember Ryana Parks-Shaw. “The issues surrounding houselessness are vast and won’t be solved in one year. This is a positive step in the right direction to provide compassionate, sustainable and intentional solutions to end houselessness in Kansas City. We still have more work to do.”
Donations Being Accepted for the Houseless
Kansas City Fifth District Councilmember Ryana Parks-Shaw worked with the United Way and the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation to facilitate the creation of a special fund to collect monetary donations to help the unhoused. Funds donated https://bit.ly/3EfVXaT or here will be used to buy blankets, clothes and other personal items for the houseless.
Community members can also drop off supplies including new boots, shoes, blankets, sweatshirts and sweatpants, scarves and sleeping bags at the City Union Mission Community Assistance Center, 1700 E. 8th St., Monday through Friday from noon to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.
Dashboard Will Help Coordinate Shelter Bed Availability
An online dashboard to track shelter bed availability is active on the city’s website. The dashboard will be updated daily with data shared by service providers. This dashboard can be used by shelters, community groups, street outreach workers and others to find available beds quickly.
“When the worst of winter hits, we’ll be ready to help people find shelter space quickly, and make sure that all available space is being used,” said Parks-Shaw. “This new tool is made possible by increased collaboration by the many shelters across the city.”
Creation of the dashboard was promised last month as part of the city’s new plan to increase services for the unhoused. It was built by staff in the Data KC Office at no extra cost to the city.
“Tracking shelter bed capacity will enable leaders and staff to see trends more clearly and be better prepared to help with additional resources during extreme weather,” said Brian Platt, city manager. “It will create new data that will help the city, as well as all the shelters, with both short and long-term planning and resource allocation.”
The dashboard will prioritize using all existing shelter beds and services each night and will better connect the shelters as they share daily bed count information to make sure people in need can find a bed faster.
The Homeless Task Force will distribute business cards listing contact information and address to shelters for those who do not have internet access or a smartphone to access the dashboard.