The City of Topeka’s homeless initiative is getting underway this week, with the convening of the working group alongside Coach Brianna Sylver with Sylver Consulting.
In February 2023, the city hired Sylver to facilitate a team of individuals who will develop effective solutions to address homelessness in Topeka in a proactive and thoughtful way.
During the August 15 City Council meeting, the Governing Body approved the working group, made up of a core and auxiliary team. The group is comprised of representatives from the City of Topeka, local residents, a previously unsheltered homeless individual, and the following organizations:
- AIM Strategies
- Compassion Strategies
- Habitat for Humanity
- Shawnee County
- Shawnee County Department of Corrections
- Shawnee County Landlords Association
- Topeka Housing Authority
- Topeka Rescue Mission Ministries
- Valeo Behavioral Health Care
- YWCA Northeast Kansas
The group will convene first in late August and again in mid-September. During this time the group will work to understand and define the problem. Next steps will include conducting in-depth research with subject matter experts, collecting and reviewing the data, generating and testing possible solutions, and much more.
The entire process is expected to last eight months. The city expects to walk away from the process with multiple solutions to address homelessness in Topeka, including at least two that have been tested in the community. Multiple community engagement points will occur throughout the process, especially in the research phase.
“The issue of homelessness is one that is impacting all of our residents. It’s a complex issue and one that must be understood and addressed in a humane way. I’m pleased that the working group is getting underway, and I know citizens are eager to learn about next steps and to see progress. I encourage citizens to be patient and to allow the process to work. Citizens should know that the Governing Body will continue to evaluate our camping ordinances in the coming weeks separate, but related to this process,” said Topeka Mayor Michael Padilla.
How to engage during the process
In addition to the community engagement opportunities directly related to the process, residents and representatives of local businesses and organizations can engage with the working group through an email address.
Those with feedback, ideas and thoughts about how the city and partners can address homelessness are encouraged to email email@example.com. The email address will be periodically monitored, however, criminal activity and emergencies should not be reported here.
The city has also compiled some frequently asked questions related to homelessness, which can be viewed at https://www.topeka.org/housing-services/homelessness-faq/.