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Wichita leaders plan new ways to help the homeless community during the pandemic

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW ) – Wichita city leaders are rushing to find solutions and ensure every homeless person in Sedgwick County has a roof over their heads with oncoming cold weather and the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

KSN News spoke with leaders at Humankind Ministries who say they will open all three of their facilities during the fall and winter season. The organization said its goal is to limit the spread of COVID-19 within the homeless community.

Typically, Humankind Ministries only opens two of their shelters but because of the pandemic, it says it will need extra room to follow all health and safety protocols.

“So that presents itself with some unique challenges. Certainly, there are some challenges for another location; the cost involved in that, staffing the sanitation. There are the logistics of providing for those needs. We are addressing all of those things so we can go into the winter and make sure that folks have a place to go and no one is left out in the cold,” said president and CEO of Humankind Ministries Bill Williams.

Humankind Ministries houses at least 150 people every night. The organization expects to see those numbers increasing during the cold weather season. Humankind plans on allowing residents to stay there all day when that time arrives.

Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple says the city is going to increasing funding to help the less fortunate.

“To put that in context, last year, we spent about $2 million on homelessness. This year, as of now, we are over $5 million that we are able to invest in protecting our citizens who are homeless,” said Mayor Whipple.

According to Whipple, the extra funding will allow the homeless to not only stay off the streets during the cold-weather season but also be socially distanced.

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