TOPEKA (KSNT) – With more trash and embankments popping up in Topeka, it’s no secret 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 going into vacant housing and then fires getting set, that’s what is making this a crisis.”
“There are lots of smart people in the community that are trying to tackle challenges with the unsheltered,” Topeka City Manager Stephen Wade said. “Certainly, the governing body is concerned about it. And so this is what we’re asking for here, is an opportunity to look at innovative ways to address some of those challenges.”
One of the ideas to combat the issue is bringing in a Chicago based consultant firm, Sylver Consulting. The proposal for the contract sits at more than $76,000 and will be discussed at the Feb. 7 council meeting. While it won’t immediately fix the problem, it’s something Wade said will give the city a better understanding of what to do.
“We’re not going into this with what the solutions might be,” Wade said. “It’s more of understanding the problem, the challenges that we have so that we can then look at the proper ways to address it.”
This isn’t the first proactive approach the city has taken on homelessness. Last year the city took a more internal approach.
“In November we launched equity access shelter to deal specifically with the chronic unsheltered,” Valdiva-Alcala said. “As well with a housing first approach and also with a centralized phone number for people that are needing housing to call the city and work with the city and partners.”