Topeka’s homeless population was the big topic at April’s City of Topeka conference

13 News at Six
Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 6:56 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Topeka’s homeless population was at the forefront of discussion at this April’s mayor-city manager conference.

Mayor Mike Padilla and city manager Stephen Wade took a trip to Colorado to look at the homeless shelters and learn how the state manages and helps anyone without a home and then potentially apply specific measures here known during the trip.

The officials are digesting the information they have learned and discussing if anything can be added to our community to improve the current homeless situation.

“A written report or an article in a magazine or something online,” said Mayor Padilla. “That’s all good information. It should be taken into account, but until you see it working. I think you really need to get a feel for how that translates into real life.”

“We are trying to digest a little bit of what we saw and see what lessons we have learned that might be applicable to Topeka,” said Wade.

Mayor Padilla mentioned at the start of the meeting that he and the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Director Ernestor De La Rosa helped clean a homeless campsite over the weekend at 37th and Kansas Ave. since this month is Earth Month. According to the City of Topeka’s Facebook post, the campsite was an abandoned homeless camp.

While there, Padilla said he has asked the citizens to help keep the city as clean as possible.

”He [De La Rosa] and I were shoulder to shoulder, along with my executive assistant Jane Murray and others’ staff cleaning up some of the campsites around town,” said Mayor Padilla. “In recognition of Earth Day, if you were able to see that piece that we had on our channel. I spoke and asked the citizens to help us keep the rest of the city clean. We were doing those things, specifically, for the campsites, but it is an observation that I think a lot of people have said that our city seems to have more trash than it needs.”

When 13 NEWS attended the meeting, we asked about homeless camps in our area, recently cleared, and the steps officials take to clear a homeless camp. City manager Stephen Wade also explained that the city has certain policies and procedures officials must follow before the city can clear a camp.

“What I can tell you is the city has posted policies, very specific procedures that we have to follow before we clear out an encampment, so everybody’s got rights, and it is absolutely our obligation to ensure that everybody’s constitutional rights are followed,” said Wade.