Wyandotte County warming shelter will open despite initial pushback from new mayor

FOX4 News Kansas City
FOX4 News Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Unified Government commissioners voted unanimously to keep an overnight warming shelter open for the homeless.

The Unified Government called a special meeting Thursday after new Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Tyrone Garner shut down plans for the shelter at the Reardon Center earlier this week — all ahead of bitterly cold weather and a snow storm expected this weekend.

Garner said he wasn’t aware of a contract made to open the warming shelter and never meant to put people out. He said he simply didn’t know about the logistics and safety plans.

Cross-Lines Community Outreach Executive Director Susila Jones said they were confused when the mayor decided to shut the overnight homeless shelter down. She said a contract was put in place months ago to use the Reardon Center.

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Still Jones said they were planning to open the shelter regardless, arguing their contract is valid.

At Thursday’s meeting, where Garner requested that commissioners discuss the shelter, many spoke out in support. However, some voiced opposition, saying they were concerned about safety.

Several commissioners also spoke in favor of continuing the shelter for the upcoming winter months. But other county leaders also said they felt they weren’t in the loop about the overnight shelter and didn’t know about the contract.

Garner voiced the same thing.

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“I’m not someone that’s going to lock our homeless population out. I’m not that type of person. Never have been and never will be,” the new KCK mayor said. “Those of you that follow me, one of the things that I ran on was coming up with a task force to address poverty and homelessness in Wyandotte County.”

Commissioners agreed the shelter will remain open for the remaining winter months, but several said they’d like to discuss another venue and get more community input.

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