KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Nonprofit organizations are stepping up to serve those who are homeless in Kansas City during this COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to emergency operations happened quicker than anticipated.
The city has allowed an entire block right outside Hope Faith Ministries on Admiral Boulevard to close down in the effort to make sure the homeless population in greater Kansas City can continue to get services amid the pandemic.
Before anyone enters through a certain area, they get their temperature taken, get hand sanitizer on their hands, and even go through metal detectors.
For Toccara Scott, who is homeless, life right now is stressful.
“Income reasons and the coronavirus,” she said.
She volunteers at Hope Faith, but also relies on their resources.
“It helps for us who don’t have nowhere to go, no food to eat or no clothes to wear,” she said. “I thank God for Hope Faith doing this. It’s a blessing.”
Many agencies that help the homeless have had to close their doors to comply with the CDC guidelines the CDC put in place due to COVID-19. That is why the outside of Hope Faith has become a hub where multiple agencies are now working together to serve the vulnerable community.
“I said, ‘Oh, in the next 30 days we’re probably going to see a lot of people coming who were not our typical guest,’” recalled Jaysen Van Sickle, Executive Director of Hope Faith. “That happened day one.”
Van Sickle said their initiative has gone from homeless assistance to a community assistance overnight.
“We immediately saw families and seniors and people who ran out of paychecks coming to our doors,” Van Sickle said.
With handwashing stations in place and outdoor tents set up, guests can maintain a proper distance from each other as they eat a meal.
“We’re all making sure we walk around and encourage people to social distance,” noted Van Sickle.
Already, in just a few days, they’ve gone from serving 200 meals a day to almost 400.
Many local restaurants, Kansas City Public Schools, and other organizations are donating hundreds of meals as Hope Faith serves as the “hub” for distribution.
“We’re also sending meals out to those agencies who need help, so we’re not just doing it here,” Van Sickle said.
It’s all in an effort to prevent an outbreak among a vulnerable community and prevent greater community spread.
If people have supplies they would like to donate, such as dry goods, they are asking they get dropped off at The Veterans Community Project Village (VCP Village) at 89th and Troost.
Currently, they are working to figure out how to evolve and solve the needs in the homeless and low-income communities of KC as the pandemic evolves.
VCP, Faith Hope, and others are working on getting a COVID-19 test kit center so they can take the burden off area hospitals and emergency rooms.
The groups are working to prevent the spread of the virus amongst vulnerable groups who already have little access to basic necessities and many of whom often already have medical conditions that make them more susceptible to illness or death.
Wes Williams with VCP said they are looking for medical professionals and supplies so they can provide the screenings, as well as medical necessities.
“That’s obviously a huge problem right now with our medical system getting overrun with so many people coming and going in and out of the ER,” Williams said. “If we can minimize that in any way, that’ll have a huge impact on the entire medical community.”
Eventually, they’d also like to have an area where they can quarantine people if necessary.