KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Lotus Care House now inhabits the former Days Inn motel at 5100 East Linwood Boulevard in Kanas City, Missouri. There, it will soon open a Housing Navigation Center for people experiencing homelessness.
Kansas City, Missouri, City Council voted on Dec. 9 to approve $400,000 for the initiative, but Lotus is still looking for more funding.
The navigation center will have 39 rooms and will help about 100 people get into permanent housing and wraparound services over the next year.
"The [Greater Kansas City Coalition to End Homelessness] reports up to 20% of people that are housed through the coalition return to homelessness within two years," Jonathan Reavis, the social work manager with Lotus, said to the city council committee on Dec. 1. "We're hoping to minimize that by helping with some housing-focused skills while they're staying with our program."
Reavis explained that having people at a central location, who are already on wait lists, will make sure the time limit on the housing voucher doesn't run out.
"One of the challenges we're facing right now is that somebody may be referred for housing and maybe even have a housing voucher through the coalition but then because they're still living on the streets makes it very difficult to utilize that voucher," Reavis said.
Reavis brought up an example from a colleague who was working with four people with housing vouchers who were staying at a camp. The camp was swept and now the colleague can't find the four people. Their housing vouchers ran out.
"If our program was in full operations, we'd accommodate those four people, provide temporary housing while they're finding landlords to utilize the voucher, as well as providing other supports, like housing readiness skills," Reavis said.
Many other cities already have navigation centers. Kansas City modeled the idea after San Francisco, where its first navigation center opened in 2015 and has now expanded to seven locations.
"We are super excited," Jaynell Assman, a family nurse practitioner, said.
Assman also runs Care Beyond the Boulevard, an organization that provides healthcare to people who are experiencing homelessness.
Care Beyond the Boulevard is one of several other agencies partnering with Lotus. Now, they'll have five rooms at the navigation center.
"It's a huge benefit to our homeless community because many times people who are in the hospital don't need that extended stay but they maybe need some services they can't get on the streets or it's difficult for them to get back to the hospital every day for IV, antibiotics," Assmann said.
The navigation center is now partially operating with 12 clients but will expand as they receive the funding.
Alfredo Palacol, executive director of Lotus, said they are fundraising and applying for grants.