Daisy Garcia Montoya
The Rodeway Inn at 1409 Admiral Blvd. has housed 56 homeless individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, all which tested negative, after being contracted by the city in April.
The City Council of Kansas City unanimously passed an ordinance that Mayor Quinton Lucas introduced on April 2, allocating $80,000 for a contract to provide shelter for homeless individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
The city contracted with the hotel to provide members of the homeless population within the Kansas City Metro a safe place to quarantine while awaiting COVID-19 test results.
Lucas previously said that Rodeway Inn was chosen due to its value and proximity to shelters, public transit lines, social serve agencies, clinics and hospitals.
Without a place for people who may have been infected or need to quarantine, the fear was that they would continue to go to shelters or remain on the streets, potentially infecting others.
“It’s not enough just to have orders,” Lucas said. “It’s also important for us to make sure we’re investing in stopping the spread in communities that are at risk. That’s our homeless population in Kansas City.”
While waiting for their results, each individual stays in their own room by themselves. So far all 56 homeless individuals who have been housed at Rodeway Inn have tested negative. Since self-isolation is not necessary with negative results, the average stay per client is only two nights.
The project was funded by the Health Levy Savings Fund and was put towards the Shelter for Homeless Account.
“So far, we have paid the hotel a total of $38,800,” City Communications Director Chris Hernandez said. “The contract allowed for 20 rooms per night for 30 days with options to extend monthly. We have paid one invoice for the first 18 days. Eighteen times 20, times $80 equals $28,800. We were also required to put a $10,000 deposit down. This deposit will come off of our final invoice to the hotel.”
On Wednesday June 3, Hernandez said that they had received a new invoice for an additional 38 days and would be processing that payment, as it takes time for the hotel to send the invoice and the city to process and pay them.
As of last week, the rooms reserved under the contract have not been filled to capacity.
Although food and other services are not included in the $80,000, the city is working with local organizations to help serve the members using this service.
ReStart, the only homeless agency that accepts all populations, including LGBTQ adults, unaccompanied youth, non-traditional families, and people with HIV/AIDS, has partnered with the city to help coordinate guests and provide food.
“We believe this has been a valuable and important public health service that has helped protect a vulnerable group of people,” Hernandez said. “Our Housing Services team was able to quickly find and contract for the rooms, at a critical time when homeless shelters were closing or limiting intake due to crowded conditions and in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
The program has been extended through the end of June and the addition of other services will rely on whether the contract needs to be extended further.