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Topeka city leaders enter homelessness

TOPEKA (KSNT) – With more trash and levees popping up in Topeka, it’s no secret that the homeless population is growing.

“It’s hurting our neighborhoods,” District 2 Councilwoman Christina Valdiva-Alcala said. “With the fires, with the public health and safety issues, with the squatting, with the vacant accommodation being broken into and then the fires being started, that’s what’s making this crisis.”

“There are a lot of smart people in the community who are trying to address the challenges with the unprotected,” Topeka City Manager Stephen Wade said. “Certainly, the governing body is concerned about this. And so that’s what we’re asking for here, is an opportunity to look at innovative ways to address some of these challenges.”

One of the ideas to combat the problem is to engage a Chicago-based consulting firm, Sylver Consulting. The proposed contract is worth more than $76,000 and will be discussed at the February 7 board meeting. While it won’t solve the problem immediately, Wade says it’s something that will give the city a better understanding of what to do.

“We’re not going to get into this with what the solutions might be,” Wade said. “It’s more about understanding the problem, the challenges that we have so that we can then look at proper ways to address it.”

This isn’t the first proactive approach the city has taken to addressing homelessness. Last year the city took a more inward approach.

“In November, we launched an Access to Equity shelter to specifically address chronically unsheltered,” Valdiva-Alcala said. “Even with a first approach to accommodation and also with a centralized telephone number for people who need accommodation to call the city and work with the city and partners.”

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