City of Wichita holds round table to discuss emergency winter shelter for city's homeless
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - Finding temporary emergency shelter space for Wichita's homeless population is a pressing concern to the city.
"If we do nothing, we obviously know that the situation is worsening. We have a crisis on our hands with the emergency winter shelter," said Sedgwick County Commissioner, Ryan Baty.
Over a dozen Wichita city council members, Sedgwick County commissioners and state lawmakers met Friday morning to figure out how to address the immediate winter shelter needs.
The meeting was prompted by last week's announcement that Humankind will not be opening their emergency winter shelter in November.
"If we have a winter like we've had the last two winters where we've had a cold snap, people will die in the streets of Wichita. And that is simply not acceptable from anyone in this community," said Baty.
On Friday, Humankind announced that they will be able to open their winter shelter but only with a limited capacity.
While the move solves part of the problem, more bed space is still needed.
The City has found a potential site but the building owners don't want to lease.
"A lot of these buildings are suited for it," said Wichita City Council member, Mike Hoheisel. "They are not currently looking to lease out. They want to sell their buildings."
This meeting marked on of the first times state lawmakers were brought to the table to see what resources are available at their level to address this.
"We're going to look at that," said Hoheisel. "We're gonna see maybe there's some emergency funds we can tap into."
The group will meet again next week to continue discussions. Councilman Hoheisel is confident something will get done by November.
"I feel confident that we're going to have solutions. The question is, will it be enough. And that's our went out to push through here and, and do everything we can to make sure that we provide adequate shelter for everybody."