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Kansas City launches new extreme weather plan for homeless people

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Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
On February 12, 2021, a man who identified himself as Jason spent the night in Bartle Hall but was uncertain where he would go during the day to keep warm and was unaware of the extreme cold heading his way.

The bitter cold spells of last winter spurred the city to find a better way to assist those without shelter this year.

Kansas City has put together a plan to give homeless people shelter when they need it most — when brutal cold makes the outdoors especially dangerous.

Fifth District Kansas City Councilwoman Ryana Parks-Shaw describes the plan as a "comprehensive, collaborative strategy that the city coordinated with ... those who are serving the houseless population, to establish somewhat of a triage system that will allow us to really work in tandem to help those who are experiencing houselessness."

Specific criteria will set the plan into motion, including when the temperature stays at 32 degrees or below and local shelters are reaching capacity.

Parks-Shaw says the city spent three months in meetings with local shelter providers with hundreds of years of combined experience to draw up the plan.

Stephanie Boyer's organization, reStart, has been serving Kansas City's homeless population for 40 years. She says the last 18 months have seen a continuous "upward trajectory of people calling seeking shelter, particularly for families," about five times as many families as previously seen.

Boyer is hopeful the city plan "will also help us to guide resources into a year-round issue of lack of resources for particular people."

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