With increasing demand, Bartle Hall opens as warming center for homeless Kansas Citians

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The need for housing is expanding in Kansas City due to the pandemic, and now Bartle Hall will serve as a warming center.

Dubbed the Scott Eicke Warming Center, it’s named after a man who died in the cold on New Year’s Day.

“Kansas City was Eicke’s home. We believe that every Kansas Citian’s life matters and that’s why we have named it after Scott Eicke in his memory,” said Gabby Weeks, who serves as a volunteer coordinator for the project.

 The effort is a partnership between the city and community groups, like reStart Inc.

“I appreciate the fact that there are so many people in our city and far beyond city government who have cared about the humanity of people and that’s what this situation is about today,” Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said.  

The warming center will be open nightly from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. during the winter months, according to City Manager Brian Platt.

“We still have a lot of work to do to set this site up, of course. We are rapidly deploying as much as we can today and tomorrow, to get this site open immediately,” he said.

In order to keep people save, COVID temperature checks will be provided at the door, and security will be provided by outside groups instead of the police.

“We are an anti-cop organization, and that’s our culture. The Revolutionary Black Panther Party will be providing security for the Scott Eicke Warming Center,” volunteer coordinator Gabby Weeks said.

The Kansas City Police Department said that their agency would still provide service to Bartle Hall.

“KCPD would respond to 911 calls for emergency service as needed, same as anywhere else in the city. There are many locations that hire private security, there are city ordinances that apply to that whole process as far as licensing,” Sgt. Jake Becchina said.

A spokesperson for Lucas’ office later clarified that no city funds would be used to pay the group.

Stephanie Boyer, CEO of reStart, said this effort is just the beginning, and the goal is to eradicate homelessness in Kansas City.

“It’s possible, and if we all work together and take a part of it, we can make it happen,” she said.

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