As Bartle Hall warming shelter closes, Kansas City looks for more ways to help homeless

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Scott Eicke Warming Center at Bartle Hall will close permanently on March 17. City leaders say Bartle hall was always meant to be a temporary shelter for people experiencing homelessness in the frigid temperatures.

The center was originally supposed to stay open until the end of March, but it will close ahead of an auto show at Bartle Hall set to begin March 26.

Anton Washington, with the warming center, said in the short time it’s been open, it’s connected hundreds of people to jobs, housing and mental health services.   

“It needs to be that our city government needs to work on seeing these tangible solutions that will actually really bring in sustainable resources that will allow them to sustain housing,” Washington said. “You know, you can’t just put somebody in a house and expect them to pay bills and all that.” 

Washington said the warming center has served more than 6,000 people since January, with more than 100 people staying at Bartle Hall each night. Chris Hernandez, spokesman for Kansas City, said the temporary warming center has allowed leaders to bring the resources people need to one place. 

“It’s putting everyone in one location, which we’ve never had before because it’s been spread out through all the different shelters around town,” Hernandez said. “So now we have everyone in one place and all of those shelters and social workers coming together to serve the population in one place.” 

Hernandez said the city will focus on spreading the word about existing resources like rental assistance

“There are also still a lot of folks who have not been served properly in the past or have not been able to connect with the right agency to help them, and that’s what we’re trying to do right now,” Hernandez said. “We feel like there are enough beds in shelters with all of the agencies that are out there.” 

Jason Van Sickle, executive director at Hope Faith, said their facility offers services for clients daily.   

“We provide free hot showers, meals, mail service, laundry service. You can meet with our behavioral counseling team or social work team,” Van Sickle said. “You can come in and say, ‘Hey, I need rental assistance or I’m about to be evicted.’” 

Washington hopes when the doors of Bartle Hall close, officials will focus on creating safe spaces that meet individualized needs. 

“It works because individuals are coming into a space where they’re not being scrutinized, and they won’t be discriminated against or anything racist, so we’re allowing people to be themselves,” Washington said. 

Those in need can find a list of resources here.

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