Winter shelter for the homeless opening Thursday

11/02/2012 7:40 AM

11/02/2012 7:41 AM

Warming Souls Winter Shelter – housing local homeless people nightly for five months this winter — opened Thursday under a new administrator.

Inter-Faith Ministries has assumed financial and operating responsibly for the shelter, which will operate Nov. 1 through March 31 in downtown Wichita.

Over the past four years local advocacy group Advocates to End Chronic Homelessness oversaw the fundraising and financial aspects of the shelter, while Inter-Faith Ministries provided staffing.

But in April, the faith-based organization took on the other side, too.

“Now we raise the money and pay the bills,” Inter-Faith Ministries executive director Anne Corriston said.

The shelter is open to adults daily from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. A warm dinner and light breakfast, cots and limited case management services are provided each night. Nursing will also be offered periodically.

Men and women will be housed separately, Corriston said. Check-in starts daily at 6 p.m.

The change comes after AECH announced last November that it would discontinue overseeing the shelter and instead advocate for permanent housing for the homeless.

But there is a continued need for a temporary winter shelter in Wichita, Corriston said.

“Our goal, of course, is to find them a more permanent and stable form of housing than a cot in a church space,” she said of the homeless people. “But for many of them, the demons that they live with – the addictions, the mental health issues – either prevent them from seeking that permanency or (from) being successful in that permanency.”

AECH remains a supporter of the shelter, she added.

Check-in for the men’s shelter is at Inter-Faith Inn, 320 E. Central, then those men will be taken to the hosting venue. The shelter will rotate between four buildings in or around downtown for the five-month period.

St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 1356 N. Broadway, will host the shelter in November, followed by Grace United Methodist Church, 944 S. Topeka, in December and First United Methodist Church, 330 N. Broadway, in January.

The Catholic Diocese of Wichita will host men at Inter-Faith Ministries Spiritual Center, 841 N. Market, in February and March.

The women’s shelter will be at Inter-Faith’s Ti’Wiconi Safe Haven, 841 N. Broadway, all five months. Women will go directly to Ti’Wiconi for check-in.

The venues can house 50 to 90 men and up to 20 women each night. Those who leave may not return the same night.

Last winter, the shelter housed a total of 475 men and 95 women, Corriston said — down slightly from 622 total the previous year.

She said she expects a similar turnout over the next five months.

“We’re already seeing a lot of activity at the Inter-Faith Inn,” Corriston said Thursday evening by phone. “People (are) sitting near the inn and waiting around.”

Those wanting to volunteer at the shelter are encouraged to connect with the hosting church or contact Kat Franchino, Inter-Faith Ministries volunteer coordinator, at 316-264-9303.

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