When the 27-year-old area woke up on the sidewalk Wednesday morning, everything from her fingers to her elbows was frozen.
She slept on a blanket alone on the ground near Virginia Avenue and Seventh Street as temperatures dropped to 15 degrees Celsius and Kansas City began to snow up to four inches.
Buried under a cloud of white, her body fused with the concrete she was clinging to for warmth.
Doug Langner, Faith of hope, When he approached the shelter at 6 am, he suspected she was dead.
“There was no movement and she was literally on the sidewalk wearing a blanket,” he said.
But when he pulled back her blanket and revealed only the pavement under her, he noticed that she was alive and there all night.
Approximately 12 people lined up outside waiting for the homeless shelter run by Hopeface, the only homeless shelter in Kansas City, to open the door.
“We’re triaging in a line of about 12 people, and she’s getting so cold that I literally had to pick her up,” he said.
He helped keep her off the ground and took her indoors.
As Kansas City confronts another winter storm, hundreds of people continue to look for places to keep warm while organizations struggle to keep up with demand.
This cannot be changed overnight, Langner said. But until the problem of affordable housing is resolved, will and partnership at the local level will make a difference.
“I didn’t have a shelter.”
Elia moved from Los Angeles to Kansas City at an early age and was diagnosed with schizophrenia by the age of 19.
The disorder is hereditary, but she does not know anyone in her family who has schizophrenia.
The Kansas City hospital treated her in 2017 to calm her voice, she said, but it changed her mood and made her feel strange. Since then, she has not received care of her condition.
For the past 10 years she has lived on and off the streets of Kansas City.
The area couldn’t remember when he started sleeping on the street, but said he would find himself wandering around Kansas City for the past few summers, even if he had nowhere to go.
“I didn’t know why I was outside and there was no shelter,” she said.
As recently as Tuesday, she lived with her sister. However, the two were involved in the battle and the area left.
She said dealing with the voice in her head was a constant battle. They irritate and scare her her and make her say her harmful things.
“I sometimes can’t control what comes out of my mouth … but all I know is what I can hear,” she said.
Area did not know that a winter storm would come on Tuesday night.
The overflow shelters at the Kansas City Women’s Center on East Fifth Street and Truth Store Venue were full, so she walked to the closed Hope Face. She slept outside overnight and clung to the blanket for warmth as the snow covered the streets.
“It’s daunting,” she said. “The wind was so strong that her head came off her shoulders.”
“I didn’t sleep all night, and as soon as the morning came, I became sleepy and couldn’t get up. I couldn’t move … I felt like I had to get up.
Elia said she had breakfast and coffee at Hope Face. She took a shower and received a warm blanket she could bring.
Despite wanting to stay in Hope Face, the temperature can drop to single digits, so the area needs to find another shelter to rest on Wednesday night. Langner said she plans to connect her with a case manager to help her find a place to stay.
She told Kansas City that she wanted to see more shelters, but until then she didn’t know what to do.
“I have nowhere to go … it’s like I don’t even exist and no one cares about me. And that’s a scary feeling … so I think I’m just going to walk increase.”
Need to rise
The number of people seeking help from Hope Face has almost doubled since January 2021.
Many went to shelters many times a day, and early last year there were about 2,600 visits from people who did not have a warm place. As of January 2022, the number of visits increased to 4,459.
According to Langner, mitigation of the COVID-19 protocol has helped increase the number of visitors, but for the most part it is only increasing the number of people in need.
Hopeface Operations Director Christie Smith said:
Grants help fund food, coats and gloves. However, no one has helped pay for the employees who continue to operate the shelter.
“Everyone wants to pay for food, but not for chefs and cooks,” Langner said.
Last month, Hope Face offered nearly 10,000 meals.
Langner met with Mayor Brian Pratt on Monday afternoon about receiving short-term funding from the city to prevent layoffs and keep shelters open.
“What I’m telling the staff, the city, and the listeners: we’re responsible … if people can get it done overnight, they’ll come during the day to get service. You can, “said Langner.
Pratt’s office did not immediately respond to the comments on Wednesday.
This winter, the city launched a new extreme weather program to help people experiencing homelessness.
One day The maximum daytime temperature is 32 degrees Celsius, and the nighttime temperature is below 20 degrees Celsius., The city opens an overflow center for those who have nowhere to go. The center has a capacity of about 100 people and needs to be referred from the evacuation center.
Kansas City Parks and Recreation has four community centers that act as shelters for global warming during the day and Wednesday nights. It is part of the city’s plan.
People can also access Warm the bath in many places When the temperature drops below 10 degrees on Thursday and Friday.
Those who need clothing, blankets and other supplies can pick up items at 1700 East 8th Street. Donations are also accepted here.
The city also has a dashboard Track the beds available in the shelter..
As of Wednesday night, there were no beds available for single women.