El Dorado community members say homeless problem getting worse

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EL DORADO -- Community members in El Dorado say it's a growing problem with no where for them to go. Now El Dorado police say they're finding homeless from the metro moving into their town.

The Butler County Times-Gazette reported that police found 3 homeless people from Wichita camping in an El Dorado park band shell.

A spot Deena Gaston, who is also homeless, has thought about staying as well.

"It's got water over running, there's electricity up in the band shell," said Gaston.

The homeless people reportedly told police that someone from the Butler Homeless Initiative brought them to the park and told them if they stayed for three days they'd qualify for help. Butler Homeless Initiative president Melody Gault said they have enough homeless to deal with and they'd never bring more into Butler County

"I'm not surprised that they might hear that there's an emergency solutions grant in El Dorado and there is help for people who are homeless," said Gault.

The Butler Homeless Initiative has grants to help provide Butler County homeless people with rent and utilities while they work toward supporting themselves.

"They have to look for housing themselves and if they find a landlord who's willing to work with them then we have a contract with the landlord where we would pay part of their rent," said Gault.

Trisha Menadue has volunteered her time helping homeless through church for years. She said the town has a shelter that serves women who have been in battered situations, but nothing for homeless.

"As far as the general population, there really isn't a place they can safely go and spend the night," said Menadue.

Gaston said homelessness in rural towns looks a lot different than in the city. It's mainly women and children and most try to stay hidden. She said the problem is growing in El Dorado.

"I'd say there are at least a hundred homeless people and that's probably not even half of them," added Gaston.

Gault said the Butler Homeless Initiative rent program is the best option for homeless at this point. They have been pushing for a homeless shelter since 2007.

"Right now when someone's sleeping in a garage. they might not die, but when it's 28 below zero like it was last year that's a different story," said Gault.

Gault told KAKE-TV their organization has been approved for zoning, but said it's been really hard to find a building for a shelter in that zone. She's hopeful they'll have a place by winter.


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