New program aims to simplify housing assistance in Topeka with single point of contact

The City of Topeka and community partners on Tuesday launched a new program that aims to create a more collaborative community approach to ensuring equity and access to housing and shelter in Topeka.

The program, known as Equity Access Shelter (E.A.S.), will enhance homeless services to ensure all people receive rent assistance with a single point of access. E.A.S. is located within the City’s Housing Services Division.

“No longer does a person needing rent assistance have to call multiple agencies to try to get help. One phone number means individuals are able to access help quickly, and without further trauma,” said Carrie Higgins, Senior Program Administrator for the City of Topeka. “E.A.S. uses an assessment to score each individual’s level of need, as well as coordinated entry to assist those individuals based on prioritization.”

E.A.S. partners include Catholic Charities, Community Action, Community Resources Council, Doorstep, Let’s Help, Salvation Army, Topeka Housing Authority, Topeka Rescue Mission, and Valeo.

The program was initiated by Topeka City Councilwoman Christina Valdivia-Alcala, and inspired by the housing first model and the national Built for Zero movement.

“The E.A.S. program is needed in Topeka now. Staff has been working hard on the initiative for a year. Topekans are ready to learn more so they can have faith the city is doing all possible to address the chronic unsheltered and over all homeless crisis we are experiencing.  Equity. Access. Shelter., is based on a model similar to Built for Zero, and it’s crucial all organizations that partner with the city understand real and lasting reduction in homelessness is possible working together with the single point of entry and the vital importance of consistent data, tracking and sharing information to help make this program a success,” said Councilwoman Valdivia-Alcala.

E.A.S. has a dedicated staff member with years of social work experience in Topeka. The goal is for the program to expand in the future to include clothing, food, and other services.

To contact E.A.S. to request rental assistance, please call 785-368-9533, or email Walk-ins are also welcome at the City’s Holliday Building, which is located at 620 SE Madison Ave.