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'It's long overdue': Lenexa hotel set to become first year-round shelter

Update on Lenexa hotel set to be the first year-round homeless shelter in Johnson County
Posted at 7:07 AM, May 01, 2024

LENEXA, Kan. — The La Quinta hotel in Lenexa is in the process of becoming the first year-round shelter that could impact homelessness in Johnson County.

For years, homelessness has been a pressing issue as it was often overlooked because of the county's affluence.

“It's a real issue, and it's not going to go away. It's potentially only going to get worse with the fact that rates, rental rates and housing rates just keep going up," said Rebekah Stigers, resident in Johnson County.

With shelters operating on a seasonal basis, many individuals experiencing homelessness have struggled to find consistent support and resources throughout the year. The 2023 Point in Time survey accounted for over 230 experiencing homelessness on any given night.

“I am saddened that there are more and more visible houseless people," Stigers said.

But change is on the horizon. The county approved the purchase of the La Quinta hotel on 95th Street located near Interstate 35.

"This is a great start," Stigers said. "Buying a building and creating a place to get rest and to be safe. It's Maslow's hierarchy of needs. You can't address the bigger issues until you've addressed the basic human need of safety and security.”

County officials provided an update Wednesday on where the process stands.

reStart was unanimously recommended to serve as the center's owner and operator by the United Community Services of Johnson County's evaluation committee.

"With 40 years of experience, reStart is a community leader in supporting those who are unhoused while addressing the underlying causes of chronic and generational homelessness,” Johnson County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Mike Kelly said in a statement. “I thank the committee for its recommendation and look forward to continued progress on this issue in Johnson County.”

While an opening date has yet to be determined, the county has approved an extension to the purchase closing date, which is expected to be on or around Oct. 31.

“I'm proud of Johnson County for finally stepping up and having, I'm a little bit sad to say, the only, I guess, 24-hour homeless shelter in the county," Stigers said.

You can check the progress of the project on the county's website as well as opportunities on how residents can get involved.