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Help for Open Door helps community

Good for the majority of Sedgwick County commissioners for stepping up Wednesday on short notice to help United Methodist Open Door's effort to transform a building at Second and Topeka into a comprehensive resource and referral center for those facing homelessness. The county's pledge of $500,000 in matching funding over five years should help Open Door secure a much larger grant from the Mabee Foundation and get on with the renovation. Another $500,000 from the Kansas Health Foundation will further serve Open Door's one-stop referral center, which is one of the goals of the city-county Taskforce to End Chronic Homelessness. Commission Chairman Karl Peterjohn voted against the funding, citing concerns about tying the hands of future commissioners and even suggesting such public funding deters religious efforts on behalf of the homeless. But "I don't see this as us helping the religious community," said Commissioner Gwen Welshimer. "I see them helping us, because we're responsible for the social services in this community and were it not for them, we would be facing the dilemma of how to handle this alone. So I see this as a great help for Sedgwick County."