Johnson County outlines efforts in place to help combat homelessness

Johnson County is investing funding and resources and working with community stakeholders to help address homelessness in our county. We appreciate the good work of the Good Faith Network and Project 1020.  We have been meeting with the Good Faith Network regularly and appreciate their passion for this issue. The county has a variety of existing programs that serve residents who are experiencing housing challenges and has recently allocated millions of dollars towards this issue.

Since April 2021, a Board of County Commissioners sub-committee has worked with community partners and county staff to identify areas where county government can address housing needs, including homelessness. The framework of this effort is a complete housing continuum focusing on a spectrum from cost-burdened homeowners to chronic homelessness and everything in between.

The sub-committee proposed two recommendations to address homelessness: establish a Housing Coordinator position and support community efforts to establish a shelter and associated services. Progress has been made on both of those recommendations.

  • The county has been recruiting for the new Housing Coordinator position and plans to have someone in place by the beginning of the year.
  • On Oct. 20, the BOCC allocated $60,000 of federal COVID funding towards a feasibility study for a community shelter with transitional units and on-site services to be located in Johnson County. Studying the financial sustainability of opening a shelter and providing services is a crucial step.

The $60,000 for the study was just one portion of funding approved on Oct. 20. We also allocated the following:

Utility Assistance through Aging & Human Services (AHS) $ 250,000
 Cold Weather Response - Hotel Voucher Shelter & Case Management $ 500,000
Project 10/20 Infrastructure Shelter Requirements to Meet Lenexa Code $ 225,000    
Homeless Management Information Software (Caseworthy) $ 250,000
Food Insecurity Program (40 pantries X $20,000)   $ 800,000

On Nov. 17, the BOCC approved thousands of dollars of funding to address homelessness in Johnson County through two funding mechanisms, facilitated by United Community Services of Johnson County:

  • The allocation of $142,527 of 2023 Johnson County Alcohol Tax Funds included $75,000 for a program that helps individuals experiencing substance abuse as well as homelessness to access services and address underlying conditions. It also included $60,000 for Friends of Recovery Association’s Oxford Houses. These are transitional homes for those recovering from substance abuse, including adults who are experiencing homelessness or in danger of homelessness.
  • The allocation of $151,500 for the 2023 Human Services Fund included funding for several initiatives including transitional housing, shelter, meals, transportation and case management for homeless youth, families and single adults.

At our Dec. 8 meeting, we will consider accepting nearly $4 million additional funds from HUD and revising our HUD plan to get approval for having those funds go towards a non-congregate homeless shelter. The HOME funds are being provided to assist individuals or households who are homeless, at risk of homelessness and other vulnerable populations by providing housing, rental assistance, supportive services, and non-congregate shelter.

Board of County Commissioners
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