KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- The coronavirus and stay at home order puts a strain on homeless shelters.
The CEO of reStart, an organization providing housing and support services, said they are stretching their budget as far as they can to keep people sheltered.
“We’re still providing about 20 or so of those beds unfunded at this point in time,” said Stephanie Boyer. “In the middle of a pandemic we certainly can’t stop doing that and put even more people on the street.”
Boyer said it is a challenge to keep up with social distancing recommendations in a communal living space. reStart is reducing the number of people per bedroom to provide more space. The facility is currently operating at close to half of its capacity.
reStart is still accepting new people, but at a much slower rate.
Boyer said the exit process has also slowed because apartments are taking longer with tenant applications.
“We had a lot of folks who were in the process of exiting and getting into housing, and for a lot of them that has kind of come to a halt. People are feeling really stuck right now,” Boyer said.
She said employees and resources are stretched thin. Donations are down but the need for essentials, like blankets, is not.
Boyer said people experiencing homelessness are often overlooked and were at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. She said there needed to be a faster community response.
The city is working with hotels to temporarily house people waiting on coronavirus test results. There are plans in development for a separate facility for people who test positive but do not need intensive medical care.
Boyer said she hopes permanent solutions come out of the pandemic response.
“To point out a bright side or a silver lining to this as well, I think it’s opening up the doors to a lot of those conversations that we’ve been trying to have for a lot of years about some of those gaps and needs,” she said.