KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Homeless who are still in Kansas City hotels were forced to check out Thursday as the city’s temporary shelter program came to an end.
Still, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas is calling the program a success.
At the same time, officials said the south lawn of City Hall is closed to the public so that structural repairs to the parking garage underneath it can take place.
The timing seems to be a fortunate coincidence for those who want to keep the homeless from camping on the grounds again.
The mayor said that shouldn’t be necessary.
As homeless individuals checked out of their hotels on a rainy Thursday, Lucas said there are more than 200 shelter beds available to those looking for a safe and dry place to spend the night.
Kansas City police said during the homeless hotel program, calls for service at hotels in the Northland increased exponentially. These included reports of crimes, alleged threats and assaults and property damage to hotels.
Lucas said he believes that’s a small price to pay to make sure everyone has a safe roof over their heads.
“We have spent millions,” Lucas said. “Those millions have been meant to get people housing, to get people food, to get people taken care of. In terms of what the city council has approved in funding: millions for housing. I believe it was probably less than $50,000 on destruction of property. I disagree with those who talk about this program as something that’s destructive.”
City officials claim taxpayers have spent less than $3 million on the program and say 50 people found jobs during that time, 120 received other unspecified benefits, and 220 received health care while in the program.
The mayor said Kansas City will continue to meet the immediate need with hundreds of shelter beds available Thursday night and every night.
Moving forward, Lucas said the city council is exploring building pallet homes for the homeless, buying a hotel to use for homeless housing, or procuring a set of hotel rooms to help families transition to permanent homes.