TOPEKA (KSNT)- Shawnee County officials are moving forward with conversations to tackle homelessness issues in the area.
Commissioner Bill Riphahn joined Rebekah Chung on the 27 News Morning Show on Friday to give an update on conversations with the Topeka City Council and Mayor. Riphahn said, so far, he’s met with the mayor, and that they’re “on the same page” about addressing the issue.
“There’s no easy to understand right answer with homelessness, because many of them are there for different reasons in that situation… you have some that have drug and alcohol problems… you have people with mental issues… and then you have people just by circumstance that ended up homeless, or some people… that’s just their lifestyle…,” Riphahn said.
When pressed on “solutions” that were discussed to combat homeless issues in the county, Riphahn said, “that’s where it gets tough.”
“A lot of these people they probably just need to be evaluated to see what kind of help they need,” he said. “Like I mentioned, people are there for various reasons, so the type of help you give them would vary.”
Homelessness issues in the Capital City have escalated in recent months.
Residents have voiced their concerns about homeless people migrating closer to neighborhoods.
The issue escalated in August when a local bicycle club member said she was attacked by homeless person’s dog, while riding on the Shunga Trail. The cycling group called on Shawnee County and the City of Topeka to step up community policing along the trails where unhoused encampments exist.
Riphahn has pushed to clear out community homeless encampments in the past. However, local officials are still in the process of mapping out how to achieve that goal.
“Both the City and County have taken steps to help law enforcement… The City has passed some ordinances and the County has passed a resolution, defining what camping is and where you can camp…,” Riphahn explained.
“It gives law enforcement a little bit of teeth in maybe relocating some of these people… but, that’s the big issue…,’where do these people go?'” he continued.
Riphahn said the next steps are figuring out how to relocate the homeless population and getting them the “help they need.”
To watch the full interview, click here.