Butler Homeless Initiative (BHI) responds
To the Editor,
The Butler Homeless Initiative (BHI) board and staff, are saddened by the article in Friday’s news. BHI has publicly stated many times that it "would not transport homeless persons into Butler County and/or El Dorado.” Staff can confirm that within our ability of obtaining residential information, we have not, and will not, relocate homeless individuals from Wichita. BHI uses a statewide database required for use by our funding source, to track any potential clients asking for help, that may have received assistance in any other county.
BHI has always been available and willing to work with the El Dorado City Manager, the City Commission, the Police Department, and Butler County Sheriffs Office to assist in the protection of the community, and find proper assistance for homeless individuals and families. BHI has not been contacted by law enforcement to assist or provide needed information concerning any investigation.
BHI does not provide a landlord list, or assist in the housing search process. Individuals are encouraged to search for rental homes on their own, encouraging ownership of their success plan, and to prevent any conflict of interest.
An expectation of being in the program, is that clients seek employment. BHI staff have stated that they are "proud of our client’s successes in obtaining employment.” Clients work with staff to make long term plans for success. Clients are not removed from the program unless they do not comply with expectations, or they complete their success plan and become self-sufficient.
Since 2009 BHI has worked very hard to provide temporary transitional housing for those without homes. Time and again, we have been faced with opposition. BHI has continued to meet every expectation asked of it, yet has been voted down. The City has reported people sleeping in the park and taking showers at the spray park. Now, it is reported by law enforcement, people are sleeping at the band shell, and this paper is reporting that landlords have seen an increase in calls from the homeless looking for rental property. The homeless population has been increasing as a result of the economy since 2009, and BHI is now able to help some of that population with the rapid rehousing program. Since May, BHI has received 219 calls for assistance and 164 of those calls have been from individuals and/or families within Butler County. These individuals have been either in danger of homelessness, couch surfing, or officially homeless.
The numbers do not lie. Butler County has a significant need for housing to help support the homeless population, we do not need to transport from other counties, although we do hope in the future that everyone in the county will have a home, thus not needing our assistance.
Once again we ask if not here, where? And, if not now, when?
With love and respect for all parties involved,
Butler Homeless Initiative