Local facility for homeless with COVID-19 has closed

By The Examiner staff

Jackson County and the Greater Kansas City Coalition to End Homelessness have closed a facility set up to isolate or quarantine homeless people with COVID-19 or with an exposure to it.

The facility was at the Three Trails camp, belonging to the Salvation Army, at U.S. 40 and Lee’s Summit Road on the southern edge of Independence. It was open for 14 weeks and handled fewer people than expected.

“The project provided a safety net. We didn’t have to use the safety net, which was a good thing,” County Administrator Troy Schulte told county legislators last week.

In all, it served 27 people. It had been set up for 50, and that meant around-the-clock medical personnel and security as well as such things as added fencing. The county set aside $450,000 but will likely end up spending about $350,000, Schulte said.

“It was a full operation designed to support 50 people,” he said.

Schulte said COVID-19 appears not to have had the devastating impact on homeless and near-homeless people that was first feared, though Legislator Jalen Anderson, D-Blue Springs, said aversion to dealing with government might have kept some people away.

“So we did not have the demand that we thought we would initially have,” Schulte said.

The facility was closed Aug. 14. It is being cleaned and turned back over to the Salvation Army. 

Schulte said cities, which are getting federal money through the county for COVID costs, can probably handle cases of homeless persons with the disease. If the county has to step in again, he said, it would be far less expensive to use hotel vouchers.