After a month of searching, a temporary location for Wichita’s emergency winter shelter has been identified.
The City Council will vote Tuesday on a $685,000 package to support a no-barrier 24/7 shelter for up to 250 people at 2220 E. 21st St., a city-owned property that used to house the Fundamental Learning Center.
The facility near Hillside will be operated by HumanKind Ministries, which will dedicate its entire $200,000 winter shelter budget to the project, in collaboration with the city housing department and nonprofit partners that will provide counseling and other services on-site.
“Today’s announcement represents the most promising public and private endeavor our community has ever taken to address homelessness,” HumanKind Executive Director LaTasha St. Arnault said at a news conference Thursday.
Assistant City Manager Troy Anderson said there’s no set date for when the emergency shelter will open, but he expects it to take at least three weeks to acquire the equipment and supplies and furnish the space.
“Realistically, we’re probably talking end of November, first of December,” Anderson said. The $885,000 budget will support 22 weeks of 24/7 operation at the facility, which is to be gated and staffed with security personnel at all times, he said.
The emergency shelter will provide three meals a day and options for on-site mobile showers are being explored. City bus route 28, which originates at the transit center and runs along 21st Street, will be free to riders while the emergency shelter is in operation, Transit Director Mike Tann said.
Families and minors will not be served at the emergency shelter but the 250-bed facility will ensure that there are open beds in HumanKind’s other facilities to accommodate them.
“We’re diverting single men and single women to this singular location, and then that is going to free up our 60-bed facility, and we’ll be devoting a large portion of that to families experiencing homelessness,” St. Arnault said.
“While there remains numerous details to be worked out in the short-term, today is just the beginning of what we jointly hope to be a long-term solution to make homelessness rare, brief and nonrecurring in our community.”
HumanKind announced in early October that it could not open its North Market shelter this year due to “facility issues and capacity constraints.” The organization is still seeking long-term solutions, St. Arnault said, but she’s heartened by the collaboration she’s seen over the last month at the city, county and state level.
“This would not be a permanent site but could work well for this winter,” Mayor Brandon Whipple said of the temporary space, which was vacated by the Fundamental Learning Center when it moved into its new facility on East Sharon Lane.
“No location was perfect, but this one best serves the immediate needs of our community,” Whipple said. “We are working as quickly as we can to make the facility suitable for emergency shelter needs, and also reaching out to the surrounding community and community partners to stand up this facility and serve the needs of our most vulnerable residents.”
St. Arnault said the temporary shelter will need 35 to 40 full- and part-time staff positions, which would be funded by the city. Hundreds of volunteers will also be needed over the coming months, including medical personnel and people willing to serve meals and operate the clothing closet.
Anyone interested in volunteering, donating time, supplies or funding, is encouraged to contact the nonprofit at humankindwichita.org.
Matthew Kelly joined The Eagle in April 2021. He covers local government and politics in the Wichita area. You can contact him at 316-268-6203 and email@example.com.
This article was republished here with the permission of: The Wichita Eagle