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Homeless shelter to operate in Lenexa church

Homeless shelter to operate in Lenexa church
Posted on 12/13/2019
City of Lenexa, Kansas logoThe City of Lenexa, Kansas and the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church have reached an agreement that will allow Project 10/20 to operate a homeless shelter in the church for the next three winter seasons or until the Lenexa City Council adopts new codes regulating homeless shelters.

“The City of Lenexa wants to be part of a comprehensive solution to the homeless issue in Johnson County. This agreement will enable the homeless population to be served temporarily while we work toward a comprehensive solution that serves the entire community,” said Lenexa City Manager Beccy Yocham.

Project 10/20 can begin operating the homeless shelter in the church today. The agreement stipulates that up to 30 adults can stay in the facility each night through April 1, 2020. The shelter can operate nightly from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

“The City of Lenexa has always recognized the need for homeless services in Johnson County,” explains Yocham. “We are also charged with a myriad of responsibilities to our entire community – one of which is the duty to ensure that appropriate land use and zoning decisions are made.”

The Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church is located in a Single Family Residential zoning district.

“Our zoning codes help make sure that each type of area – whether it be residential, agricultural or commercial – is created and maintained in a way that respects the character of the land, allows property owners to rely on certain expectations for the area, and does not overburden nearby infrastructure or services. We take our responsibility to apply codes consistently and neutrally very seriously, on behalf of all of our citizens.”

The City of Lenexa will begin an in-depth process to update City Code to more comprehensively address how homeless shelters are regulated throughout the community. The City will engage residents and members of the faith community in this process. Like all codes, the Lenexa City Council will be the ultimate decision maker on new regulations.

The current agreement covers the next three winter seasons, ending in April 1, 2022. If new codes are adopted before that time, the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church will be required to operate under those codes.

After an initial hearing last week, United States District Court Judge Daniel Crabtree encouraged the parties to work toward mutual solution. As part of the agreement, the City of Lenexa agreed to pay $15,000 to cover a small portion of the legal fees incurred by the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church. 

The Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church is located at 9400 Pflumm Road in a former elementary school. Questions about the policies and procedures for operating the homeless shelter should be directed to Project 10/20 and the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church.

Published Dec. 13, 2019