Connect with us

Kansas

Kansas weighs investing millions in shelters after years of increased homeless populations

Published

on

Kansas weighs investing millions in shelters after years of increased homeless populations


On a single night in Kansas last year, there were about 2,636 homeless people living in the state, including about 400 in Shawnee County, according to the statewide Point in Time Count that likely undercounts the total number.

But there are less than a thousand shelter beds available statewide.

The House Committee on Welfare Reform is tasked with finding ways to address the growing homeless population in the state, which reached the highest levels it has seen since 2014 after six consecutive years of rising homeless populations.

The committee heard a bill, House Bill 2723, which would establish a $40 million grant fund that would go to communities around the state that create a plan to create more shelter beds. Grants would only go to cities that do the following:

Advertisement
  • Provide the same amount of money they receive.
  • Submit a building plan to create or improve a shelter.
  • Collect data on the populations the shelter serves.
  • Enforce laws criminalizing vagrancy and public camping.
  • Prioritize Kansas residents who’ve lived in the state for more than eight months.
  • Provide “wraparound” housing service.

Those wraparound services aren’t defined in the bill, which several legislators and advocates raised concern about. But legislators got a better sense of what those services include at a March 14 briefing from homeless service providers and cities seeking to expand their services.

Shelters, services and statutes

Of the 2,636 homeless people identified in the latest Point in Time Count, 943 resided in rural areas. Several legislators on the reform committee raised concerns about equitably distributing funds to address both categories of homelessness. McPherson Housing Coalition runs a non-congregate shelter in the 14,000-population town, hosting up to 10 families in separated tiny homes.

To get the shelter up and running cost around $1 million, said MHC’s executive director Chris Goodson. The most important part, though, is the social services included to help get families back on their feet.

“You can build affordable housing, but if you don’t offer social services of some sort to help families work through those roadblocks, it’s not going to work,” Goodson said.

Advertisement

City officials from Wichita presented their idea of addressing homelessness in a much larger City. Their proposal is to refurbish Riverside Hospital into a complex that includes a congregate shelter, where people share rooms for an overnight stay, as well as solo non-congregate rooms, low-income housing, space for homeless services, dining rooms and classrooms.

“The more that we can bring under one roof,” said Troy Anderson, Wichita’s assistant city manager. “There are efficiencies of scale, there are efficiencies in trying to achieve that functional net zero because there’s not a lack or a confusion of trying to connect one resource to another.”

The “functional net zero” of homelessness is effectively getting more people out of homelessness than are becoming homeless. Anderson said if they can consistently graduate people toward housing stability, it’d eventually mean that the homeless population is almost entirely temporarily displaced people, rather than chronic homelessness, which accounts for about 25% of Kansas’s homeless population.

Wichita has the largest homeless population in the state, and its proposal may have the highest price tag. The city said it would likely be asking for $20 million, half of the total grant money available in HB 2723, to construct the complex.

Advocates from all over the state spoke to the committee, from Liberal to Wyandotte County. Though smaller communities will need less money for their projects than larger communities, their less resourced local governments may have additional barriers to proposing than more heavily staffed urban areas.

Advertisement

Committee-members considered earmarking a certain amount for more sparsely populated areas or allowing cities to bolster their applications with donations from nonprofits.

Is the bill enough to address homelessness in Kansas?

Some homeless service providers had quibbles with the bill, including the provisions on enforcing vagrancy laws, that the data collection doesn’t feed into other reports, that nonprofits should be able to apply for funds and including a severability clause that would ensure the program continues if parts of the legislation are struck down in court.

One conferee, though, sharply differed from the others in their rejection rejection of “housing-first” policies that offer transitional housing, pointing to increases in homeless populations in areas that adopted a housing-first approach.

“Obviously homelessness and there’s many factors, but we believe housing first is making the problem worse, it focuses dollars away from shelter and toward permanent supportive housing,” said Andrew Wiems, of Cicero Action, a group that last year advocated for legislation that would criminalize public homelessness.

House Bill 2723 had its hearing on March 5 and isn’t scheduled for debate on the House floor, but if passed could significantly impact the scope of homeless services in the state.

Advertisement

“From the conversations I’ve had with prospective bidders, communities that are considering applying for the funds, I feel like the $40 million, with the one-for-one match which would be $80 million, I think would be sufficient to address the chronically homeless population that we’re looking to target with our funds,” said Andrew Brown, deputy secretary for programs of the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services.



Source link

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Kansas

University of Kansas receives $1.6 million to launch law clinic dedicated to issues of veterans • Kansas Reflector

Published

on

University of Kansas receives $1.6 million to launch law clinic dedicated to issues of veterans • Kansas Reflector


LAWRENCE — Retired U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Cody White served in uniform for 16 years until an unexpected diagnosis of diabetes prematurely ended his military career.

White, who grew up in Troup, Texas, and is among first-year law students at the University of Kansas, she he looked back fondly of his years of service in the Marine Corps. When that career was cut short, however, he had to deal with a behemoth of administrative complexities that surfaced in the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, he said.

“Fortunately, for me, I was provided legal counsel to go through that process to help, to guide me, to assist me through the darky murky waters that I faced,” White said. “I came out OK. Unfortunately, thousands of veterans a year do not have such luck. This is a tragic reality.”

White said announcement Friday of a $1.6 million federal appropriation to launch a KU School of Law clinic dedicated to working on issues revolving around veterans could serve as a beacon of hope for men and women striving to navigate legal issues in the government bureaucracy. It would help law students gain practical insight into legal obstacles faced by veterans and introduce students to potential careers in the specialized field of law, he said.

Advertisement

“It will also foster a culture of empathy and understanding between the legal community and veterans,” he said. “This clinic will enable us to ensure our veterans receive the justice and support they deserve. From the bottom of my heart, and please let me represent the entire student body when I say, ‘Thank you.’”

The KU clinic would provide free legal aid for veterans experiencing issues related to disability claims, discharge upgrades or criminal charges tied to service-connected incidents.

Law students and faculty would be in a position to address ramifications of mental illness and substance abuse that complicated transition from military to civilian life. The clinic also could work on debt collection, family law, child support, landlord-tenant disputes or revoked driving licenses.

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican who graduated from the KU law school in 1982, returned to his alma mater to celebrate the $1.6 million federal appropriation that crossed the finish line a few weeks ago. While the federal government would financially support activities to get the clinic off the ground, the university would assume responsibility for ongoing funding.

Moran said 88% of low-income veterans had inadequate or no legal assistance, including those grappling with basic access for VA financial and health benefits. An estimated 190,000 veterans reside in Kansas. The law clinic, like several dozen comparable clinics located outside Kansas, would serve as a vehicle to deliver desperately need legal services, the senator said.

Advertisement

“I recognize that my family and I have the opportunities that we have based upon the service of those who serve today and who preceded those who serve today,” said Moran, who has been on either the U.S. House or U.S. Senate veterans affairs committee for 28 years. “They will now receive service and, perhaps, find justice.”

Moran said the clinic would contribute to the law school’s sense of public purpose while offer hands-on experience of interacting with clients with veteran status.

The concept of a KU law school clinic for veterans was put forward about a decade ago by retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Clyde J. “Butch” Tate II, was served as deputy judge advocate general and graduated from the KU law school. He currently works with All Rise, a nonprofit providing technical support and training for people involved with specialty treatment courts for veterans.

“I realized that the issues facing the veterans in those courts were but one of the challenges they faced to a full reintegration to a productive life,” Tate said. “You could take care of the criminal issue, but then you had these layers of civil issues really weighing them down.”

Retired Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss, a former U.S. Marine Corps officer who also attended the clinic announcement, said the law clinic could eventually be a contributor to a Douglas County court for veterans. The state has such courts in Wyandotte, Sedgwick, Johnson, Leavenworth and Shawnee counties, but Nuss said there was an effort was underway to secure U.S. Department of Justice support for the state’s sixth.

Advertisement

“We’re working real hard to get one here in Douglas County,” Nuss said.

Stephen Mazza, dean of the KU law school, said there was a history of the law school serving legal needs of people who otherwise couldn’t afford representation.

The school’s legal aid clinic has been in place for 55 years, he said. More recently, the law school established medical legal partnerships at the KU Medical Center and Lawrence Memorial Hospital. He said the Project for Innocence extended legal services to prison inmates, while an elder law program operated out of the university.

“These clinics and partnerships have made an important positive impact on our community,” Mazza said. “They are an important part of the legacy of this law school.”

Advertisement



Source link

Continue Reading

Kansas

Terry Shelton Talks Kansas Recruitment Ahead Of Official Visit

Published

on

Terry Shelton Talks Kansas Recruitment Ahead Of Official Visit


Terry Shelton is a 6-foot-3 wide receiver from Ranchview High School in Carrollton, Texas.

He recently spoke with Blue Wings Rising about his Kansas offer before his official visit that starts on April 12th and closes on the 14th of April.

“When I received my scholarship offer from Kansas I felt amazing,” Shelton stated to Blue Wings Rising. “Kansas was my second offer and Coach Samuel let me know how much he and the coaching staff believe in me and want me.”

“I’ve connected with Coach Grimes and Coach Samuel. Connecting with the two was awesome! I first met Coach Samuel in person, he offered me a scholarship before my first class started and we talked for about an hour. I met Coach Grimes through FaceTime and meeting him through the phone was awesome! He let me know how excited he is about me and he can’t wait for me to visit. They gave me a great pitch. Coach Samuel coming to my school to check me out and offer me a scholarship showed me how interested he is in me and me meeting Coach Grimes made me feel the same way!”

Advertisement

Shelton talked about what made Kansas unique to him.

“What makes Kansas unique to me is the culture for sure! Kansas is an athletic powerhouse that anybody would love and be honored to play in.”

He does believe that Kansas is a top school and explains why they are a top school in his recruitment as it shows how key jumping in on recruitment early on is.

“Kansas is one of my top schools. With Kansas being one of my first offers that really shows how much they believe in me and how much they believe that I can impact the program!”



Source link

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Kansas

Kansas City Chiefs’ Rashee Rice surrenders to police on assault charge after high-speed crash

Published

on

Kansas City Chiefs’ Rashee Rice surrenders to police on assault charge after high-speed crash


Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Rashee Rice surrendered to police Thursday on charges including aggravated assault after he and another driver of a speeding sports car allegedly caused a crash involving a half-dozen vehicles on a Dallas highway last month.

A spokeswoman for Rice’s attorney confirmed to The Associated Press that Rice turned himself in at the Glenn Heights Police Department. Rice is being represented by Texas state Sen. Royce West.

Rice was booked into the Regional Jail in DeSoto, and West said he was released on bond Thursday night.

Advertisement

In an emailed statement, West emphasized what he called Rice’s “continued cooperation with law enforcement.”

“Mr. Rice acknowledges his actions and feels deeply for those injured as a result of this accident,” the lawyer said.

Rice said last week on Instagram that he was taking “full responsibility” for his part in the wreck.

On Wednesday, Dallas police said arrest warrants had been issued for Rice, 23, for one count of aggravated assault, one count of collision involving serious bodily injury and six counts of collision involving injury.

West said previously that Rice was driving a Lamborghini sport utility vehicle when the crash happened March 30.

Advertisement

Theodore Knox, 21, was driving the other speeding sports car, a Corvette, police said, and arrest warrants were issued for Knox on the same range of counts as for Rice. Dallas police said Thursday night that Knox was not currently in custody.

Southern Methodist University said earlier in the day that, after learning of the arrest warrant, Knox had been suspended from its football team. Knox’s attorney, Deandra Grant, said her client was cooperating with law enforcement.

Police have alleged that Rice and Knox were speeding in the far left lane when they lost control, and the Lamborghini traveled onto the shoulder and hit the center median wall, causing a chain collision.

Rice and Knox allegedly left following the crash without determining whether anyone needed medical attention or providing their information, according to police. Four people involved in the crash had minor injuries, police said.

Rice grew up in the Fort Worth suburb of North Richland Hills and played college football at nearby Southern Methodist, where a breakout senior season in 2022 put him on the radar of NFL teams.

Advertisement

The Chiefs selected him in the second round of last year’s draft, and he became one of the few dependable options in their passing game.

Reporting by The Associated Press.


Get more from National Football League Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more




Source link

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Trending