Volunteers counted 365 homeless people last year in Topeka during the annual Point in Time Homeless Count.
Meanwhile, one chronically homeless person costs taxpayers an average of more than $35,000 a year, says the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
Multiply those and the total is $12.78 million.
Compare that to the approximately $76,000 that the Topeka city government is considering paying a consultant to help the city better address homelessness, and “that $76,000 is a pretty small number,” said city manager Stephen Wade.
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Topeka mayor and city council plan Feb. 7 to consider Wade’s request to enter into a contract through which the city would pay $76,080 to Evanston, Ill.-based Sylver Consulting LLC to help the Topeka community to help the homeless in a more proactive and humane way.
The effort would be carried out “through a lens of empathy and concern,” Wade told The Capital-Journal on Monday.
Support for the proposed move was expressed on Monday by the Rev. Barry Feaker, former longtime director of the Topeka Rescue Mission.
“We have to invest on the front end, so we don’t continuously just do what we’re doing,” he told The Capital-Journal.
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Why do you think the consultant is necessary?
Topeka’s plight regarding the unprotected is on nearly everyone’s mind here, Wade said.
“Homelessness in the Topeka community is steadily getting worse and becoming more visible,” reads a document on the agenda for the Feb. 7 meeting.
Last December, during a period of severe cold, resource procurement difficulties caused delays in emergency response actions involving people without shelter, the document said.
“Emerging from that situation, it became clear to city government and other working groups that deeper partnerships were needed if the community was to achieve its goal of supporting the unprotected population in a more proactive and humane way,” he said .
Meanwhile, the scale of the homelessness challenge is becoming more tangible for the average Topeka resident, as the waste produced by this population is becoming more visible in and around the community, the document said.
“The way we currently deal with Topeka’s unprotected population isn’t working — for members of that unprotected population, for other city residents, or for community groups set up to support the unprotected community,” he has declared.
The Agenda Pack document says residents here need to step back and ask themselves: ‘What can we do differently to achieve a different outcome and, more specifically, to get to a place where we are more proactive (versus reactive ) and more humane in response to how our community supports its unprotected population?
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What would the consultant be asked to accomplish?
The proposed contract under review Feb. 7 calls for Sylver Consulting LLC President Brianna Sylver to educate “the City of Topeka and other community partners through the application of the Path to Innovation methodology to the topic of homelessness in the Topeka community,” she said. the document planner package.
This methodology is taught as part of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative innovation journey.
Topeka city leaders have been taking part since 2018 in that initiative, founded by billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg.
As part of that initiative, Brianna Sylver is currently coaching a core team of local leaders as they seek to use the Path to Innovation curriculum to unlock new economic development opportunities for Topeka.
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The city needs this same support to gain traction in tackling homelessness, the agenda package document says.
The trial will last from February to September of this year, the document said.
He added, “By the conclusion of the scope of work, the City of Topeka will have identified a portfolio of solutions to address the challenge of homelessness in the Topeka community; prototyped and tested two of these solutions with members of their community; and developed a Impact measurement and next phase implementation plan for two solutions from the team’s portfolio of ideas.”
The estimated cost of $76,080 would include $64,260 for teaching and coaching support, $6,750 for project and administrative expenses, and $5,070 for other project expenses, including travel expenses for site visits and lunch for on-site meetings.
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What has Sylver Consulting done elsewhere?
Brianna Sylver said in a letter to Wade that she has personally coached 19 municipal teams who have taken part in various Bloomberg programs, including applying the Path to Innovation curriculum to meet the needs of unprotected populations in Reno, Nevada, and Paterson, NJ
Work in Paterson led to that city becoming one of 15 winners out of the city’s more than 500 initial applicants of $1 million in Bloomberg’s 2021-22 Global Mayor’s Challenge, which champions and disseminates cities’ most promising ideas, the letter said.
Paterson won for its innovation to make drug treatment for opioid addiction available in 90 minutes, anytime, anywhere.
Contact Tim Hrenchir at [email protected] or 785-213-5934.