Butler Co. group faces roadblocks with helping homeless


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EL DORADO, Kan. -- Some frustrated after city tables discussion on homeless shelter.

Leaders in El Dorado say more time and research is needed before considering a new shelter for the homeless.

Monday night, the Butler Homeless Initiative was sent back to the drawing board. The faith-based organization has been pressing for a third shelter in the community.

"They recently found one and made application with the city for a rezone," said City Engineer Scott Richard. "The property needed to be rezoned to a commercial district and also a special-use permit needed to be granted to allow the transitional use."

That property is the Blue Spruce Motel, located outside of town on Southeast US-54. BHI would like to buy the property, currently priced at $165,000.

Melody Gault, president of BHI, said the 16-unit motel would offer housing to people who can't access the two shelters available. Future residents of the transitional housing unit would be military veterans and male victims of domestic violence. The housing would be a private alternative and would likely be temporary.

"We're looking at a holistic approach in helping those that we would serve, and moving them into a program where they would actually transition into housing where they're paying rent," Gault said. "And help them with employment skills and if they need a little assistance along the way, we can provide that, but help them with employment skills, resume writing."

Gault said a recent survey showed that 150 people are homeless in Butler County, but analysts believe up there could be up to 350.

"I actually had a lady come up to me yesterday and mentioned that she had been homeless and had received some help and how grateful she was and her life was back on track," Gault said. "We know that the need is greater than the services that we already have in place. We don't want to be everything to all people, but we want to do our part."

The city commission will revisit the BHI housing project on May 5.


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