Wichita's temporary winter shelter approved, community members upset with location
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - Over $600 thousand has been unanimously approved by the Wichita City Council to fund a temporary winter shelter near 21st and Grove.
However, many in the community are upset with the location chosen for the shelter, saying they were not given a choice and the shelter would bring drugs and crime to their neighborhoods.
Wichita’s African American Council of Elders called for the meeting to let community members discuss the plan and how they should move forward.
Rev. Titus James with the council says a lot of the community is frustrated with the plan.
“Here we go again, things are just shoved down our throat or just put in our neighbor without our input or request for participation. So we felt the need to respond let the City know that we're not pleased with the way they're doing things in this process and this issue,” said Rev. James.
The frustration stems from two main issues:
How close the proposed shelter is to the Boys and Girls Clubs and the TOP early learning center and what community members feel like was a lack of communication by the City to residents about the plan.
Many said they found out by a notice on their door Thursday, the same day the City announced the location.
LaVonta Williams, a former city councilperson and member of the NAACP and Council of Elders says that lack of communication was insensitive to the community.
“What kind of respect was given to that neighborhood, a neighborhood that is already battling contaminated water and issues pertaining to a truck stop as well, environmental issues."
She adds that with the facility being near education centers, they want more clarity and security.
“I do understand that the HOT team will also be involved, the homeless outreach team but if they are downtown, it's the how fast would they be able to get there? I just think there's so many unanswered questions."
Aujanae Bennett, president of the Northeast Milair neighborhood association which covers the area the shelter is slated for, says many of her neighbors feel they are not being valued by the City.
“We are a integral part of this city. We pay taxes, we work, we send our children to school. We are a part of this city, but we are just disregarded and treated as if we are not and I'm not pleased about it. None of us are.”