WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - As the winter months commence, Wichita leaders are pushing to get members of the homeless community to shelters given the cold weather.

HumanKind Ministries opened its 24/7 Emergency Winter Shelter Tuesday for the season. The service will remain open through March 31. 

“I utilize homeless shelters, because it is a place for warmth, and the people are very good to me,” Eric Clayton, a Wichita man experiencing homelessness, said. “They always take care of the homeless.”

Clayton said he prefers shelters to camping. The City of Wichita said its Homeless Outreach Team is supposed to encourage unhoused individuals to go to the shelters, along with letting them know about other available resources, especially when it is cold. 

“It’s much better for me to get off my problems and to deal with life and be real and be a part of the community,” Clayton said. 

The Wichita City Council recently approved putting $90,000 more into removing homeless camps across the community. The clean-up process gives people with encampments 72 hours, after a notice is given, to move. 

“If you are to knock out, let's say, someone's campsite, you didn't actually solve the problem,” Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple said. “You just added cosmetics to it, and the reality is, we need to be doing more than just pushing folks outta sight outta mind.”

Whipple said the allocation is part of his overarching goal to address homelessness in Wichita. He said the City is also expanding its warming stations and working with local businesses to provide resources to unhoused people that stop by. 

“We want, particularly when the temperature gets really cold, is to get people in a safe, secure location that's heated where they can get their needs met,” he said. 

Open Door also has a day-time shelter on the weekdays, open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Whipple also said Breakthrough Wichita serves free hot breakfasts on weekdays for those in need. 

“I thank God for all the people that supply the government and everybody coordinating to take care of these shelter places to keep them going,” Clayton said.