The following was submitted by Advocates to End Chronic Homelessness members Rick Cline, Rick Thornton, Ben Grisamore, Mary Grisamore, June Huie, Mitch Butler, Denise Gunkel, Deedee Evans, Kathy Bowles, Patricia Beckham, Cathy McCaleb and Ronda Nusbaum.
Local media recently reported the possibility of closing a local homeless shelter, the Inter-Faith Inn, because of a lack of funding. The members of Advocates to End Chronic Homelessness are very concerned about the impact of closing this shelter.
The inn is unique because it accepts anyone who is homeless on an emergency basis, including men, women and families. It is open year-round and can accommodate up to 50 people. Its loss would leave a significant gap in our community’s safety net for our most vulnerable residents, particularly with winter approaching.
AECH has advocated for many years for more shelter beds to be available to those who live in their vehicles or on the streets for whatever reason. The Inter-Faith Inn is a very important part of our community plan for reducing and ending homelessness. Other shelters in our area (also very important to fighting homelessness) have restrictions such as “men only,” women with or without children fleeing from domestic abuse, families only, youths under 18, etc.
The inn is the only all-inclusive shelter where everyone is welcome and their needs can be addressed. It has also been invaluable to the Wichita Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team as a safe place for those the team encounters on the streets.
Inter-Faith Ministries also operates another important shelter, the Warming Souls Winter Shelter. AECH members spent four years raising funds for and sponsoring this seasonal shelter, which is open from November through March. Many churches and community groups support it by providing meals, donated items and volunteers. Yet operational funding continues to be an issue.
The winter shelter houses, on the average, an additional 75 to 100 men and six to 20 women on any given night during the winter. Although Inter-Faith’s heart and soul are there for its most vulnerable neighbors, it cannot bear the burden of housing this group alone. As a self-professed community of faith, it is our moral and civic responsibility to aid those in need and to make sure the facilities for those in need are adequate and the cost is shared by us all.
Please help us meet those needs.