KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Columbus Park community is learning more about how Kansas City, Missouri is trying to help the homeless population around the city.
The city is considering a handful of applications for more than $4.7 million that would be used to create a low barrier shelter for homeless people.
That means it would be open around the clock so people who need a place to stay are not kicked out onto the street, it doesn’t have any required training or classes to stay, and it would be able to take in people who are under the influence in most cases.
It would be a place for local organizations to connect with people who would benefit from their services with the ultimate goal of getting those people into permanent housing.
But, Columbus Park residents like Cathrym Byrom say the neighbors already encounter a lot of homeless people. Some of them have been squatting in the building down the block.
“This was one of the main points where they were coming in,” Byrom said as she pointed to a ground-level door. “It’s one of the most accessible.”
Margie Valenti says neighbors end up consistently calling the police, who are relatively limited in what they can do even when they come across squatters.
“It’s been ongoing,” Valteni said. “They come in, you get them out, then you have more.”
City leaders say the $4.7 million Department of Housing and Urban Development grant will likely help an existing facility expand and improve how they can help the homeless population.
A condition of getting the money would be abiding by low barrier shelter rules, expanding who could be helped.
The Request For Proposals is already closed, and one nonprofit in Columbus Park that already works with the homeless population revealed it applied for the funding.
City leaders tell FOX4 they think a low barrier shelter would reduce the number of homeless people in the community because they’d have a place to go during all hours of the day, and would have a great chance of eventually getting into permanent housing.
The city is still considering the proposals but neighbors like Russ Moran are worried if the funding does land with that organziation, he’s just going to see more of the same.
“I’m not saying everyone is dangerous that comes through, but you know, there are things that happen,” Moran said.
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Right now the city is evaluating the requests for the $4.7 million. There’s no estimate for when we could see a decision for where it’s going to go, but community organizers want to have a strategy for how to address these concerns in the spring.