KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s been almost a week since hundreds of people living outside packed up and moved into hotel rooms. Stefan Shipley was one of them.
“Ninety days will skip by you pretty fast, but it’s enough time for someone to change their life or situation,” Shipley said. “For the most part, I see people doing that.”
Kansas City officials has agreed to pay for 500 hotel rooms for up to three months. Each room will likely cost between $70-90 a night. Nonprofit Hope Faith has organized resources to come out to the locations to reach people where they are.
“From school to jobs to helping people get identification, food stamps, mental health — they’re coming with everything,” Shipley said.
Jaysen Van Sickle, executive director of Hope Faith, said in a few days they’ve been able to help hundreds of people get off the streets. Van Sickle said this the first step in helping to changing their lives.
“We will take it one step at a time because it’s not a tomorrow fix, it’s not a month fix,” Van Sickle said. “We can reduce the amount of time you experience homelessness we’re not going to end it.”
Shipley was laid off because of the pandemic. He told FOX4 he plans to use his time in the hotel to get back on track and out even before his three months are over.
“I’ve been in contact with my truck driving school and just trying to get my unemployment unlocked so I can move on,” Shipley said.
Kansas City police said there have been no reports of out-of-the-ordinary increases of crime near the hotels where people are staying.
“Not too many problems going on,” Shipley said. “It’s only been one or two people who have been escorted off the property. For the most part everyone is taking advantage of the resources that are coming to them.”
Van Sickle said there have been some people struggling in the new environment, but he said there are more success stories than failures so far.
“Not all of these stories will be great stories,” Van Sickle said. “But for those Kansas Citians who just needed a moment to pause, take a breath, take a shower and get a good night’s rest to turn around and be able to go out and immediately say I’m going to make my life better because you gave me a chance.”
The city has agreed to pay for the hotel rooms for 90 days. Some say people are using this time wisely.
“I even see people job hunting who weren’t doing that before,” Shipley said.
If you know someone who needs a hotel room, call the Hope Faith Hotline at 816-705-0505.
The KCMO Neighborhood Planning and Development Committee has recommended the city council pass an ordinance that would direct the city manager to start a study on how people become homeless and they barriers they face finding employment.