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City council approves redeveloping Wichita hotel into affordable housing asset

The City of Wichita is utilizing HUD CARES Act and city project funding to develop...
The City of Wichita is utilizing HUD CARES Act and city project funding to develop underutilized hotel to refurbish Broadway corridor and add much-needed affordable housing(KWCH)
Published: Nov. 24, 2020 at 6:14 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. - The Wichita City Council approved the use of federal funding to develop the 316 Hotel, located at 1011 Topeka Ave, into affordable housing. The city will collaborate with Continuum of Care to provide the funding to HumanKind Ministries to purchase the hotel.

Both public and private funds will help transform the property into studio apartments, a 56-unit supportive permanent housing complex specifically aimed at helping our community’s most vulnerable residents. The program is currently being called the 316 Hotel Project and will serve those who are homeless or experiencing housing insecurity.

This joint initiative comes at a time when The City of Wichita, Sedgwick County, the business community and the nonprofit community are concentrating their efforts to positively impact Wichita’s mental health services, education, job training, substance abuse assistance and more.

The 316 Hotel was put up for sale in early 2020 due to underutilization. The project is being funded utilizing two million dollars of City project funds in addition to HUD Cares Act funding. Additional private donations have been secured to make the project possible. Furthermore, the City was recently awarded a $1M grant from the Department of Justice which will provide additional resources to the Broadway corridor.

The project goes before the City Council on Tuesday, Dec. 1. If approved, the project could be open by early January 2021. The hotel would initially be used as a women’s shelter while renovations are underway. Renovations will include facility beautification, converting each room into studios, adding office spaces for social service providers and more. It is estimated renovations could be complete as early as August 2021.”This project addresses multiple community needs,” said City of Wichita Vice Mayor Cindy Claycomb. “Our vision is to create a comprehensive resource for those in crisis, and in doing so, there is an added anticipated benefit of reducing crime for the neighborhood.”

“This is an impressive display of partnership from all levels in our community,” said Sedgwick County Commissioner Lacey Cruse. “At a time when we need each other more than ever, this project displays how well our community can work together to accomplish what feels like the impossible. I am grateful to see such collaboration and effort to renew a structure in an area that will make an impact to the people of this community that are most in need.”

“The 316 Hotel Project is a rare opportunity,” said City of Wichita Housing and Community Services Director Sally Stang. “It allows us to leverage resources to not only provide for the immediate need to de-congregate shelter as a means to slow the spread of COVID-19 but to also secure a long-term asset to provide much needed supportive housing for our community.”

The 316 Project will be owned and operated by HumanKind Ministries, which has over 135 years of experience in serving populations facing extreme poverty. Today their work includes the management of one year-round homeless shelter and three emergency shelters. Each year, HK serves between 1,100–1,500 unduplicated homeless men, women, and children in these facilities. Additionally, HumanKind offers over 100 affordable and safe permanent supportive housing units to help low-income and formerly homeless individuals and families find stability and self-sufficiency.

Dr. Luella Sanders, Director of Collective Impact and Chair of Impact ICT, describes the importance of the project: “Impact ICT – CoC has identified affordable housing as the number one gap in the local homeless crisis response system. This project is an important step in addressing that gap in permanent supportive housing while also adding much needed shelter beds this winter.”

“For 135 years, HumanKind has brought the community together to serve our region’s most vulnerable residents, evolving throughout to meet the needs of the time,” said Bill Williams, President and CEO of HumanKind Ministries. “The Studios at HumanKind are a natural progression for us, filling a gap in services in our community while complementing our existing shelters and low-income apartments. We are so grateful to The City and County for their commitment to serving those experiencing homelessness or poverty with us.”

“We are proud to be a part of this progressive work,” said Robyn Chadwick, Ascension Via Christi hospital executive in charge of the area’s largest provider of behavioral health services. “It is our hope that the permanent housing solution under development by Humankind Ministries will be the first step in creating meaningful partnerships for serving those who are homeless and living with mental health or substance abuse issues.”

The COVID-19 pandemic increased demand for shelter services, and the Homeless Research Institute predicts homelessness will continue to rise throughout the nation.

“For the past few years, I’ve worked together with a coalition of providers and community leaders who are working on the coordination of care for people struggling with mental health, addiction and homelessness,” said Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter. “This project is a significant step toward filling a gap in services and creating a place for hope and a path to health. We are thrilled to be a part of this process.”

“The partnerships that have formed due to all the hard work being conducted by coalition members will make Wichita/Sedgwick County a better place to visit and call home,” said Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay. “We are thrilled to be a part of this process and continue to take strategic steps toward addressing the root causes of housing insecurity.”

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