By Alyssa Storm, KSNT

Faith-based organizations across Topeka gather to discuss mental health and affordable housing opportunities in the community.

Topeka JUMP held its annual Nehemiah Action Assembly. The community and organization pressed officials for answers on actions they want to see taken to help the community. This year, JUMP heard testimonies from community members about affordable and accessible housing, as well as the mental health crisis in Topeka. JUMP leaders shared the Topeka City Council has allocated $256,261 to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. This allocated amount takes the funds for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to $1 million.

JUMP said it will continue to meet with council members to activate these funds. The organization also proposed Valeo Behavioral Health apply for programs to get Crisis Intervention Certified beds (CIC beds) with funding from the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Service (KDADS). These beds can help people in need stay out of jail or hospitals.

Leaders of JUMP said nights like these are important because you can’t have change until you have hard conversations.

“If we don’t have a conversation with the people who are going to make the changes happen, then we’re not going to be very effective,” Anton Ahrens said, Topeka JUMP co-chair said. “And that’s exactly what we’ve done. That’s our work to bring people together, to negotiate, and to make good things happen so people can get services.”

Valeo Behavioral Health CEO Bill Persinger and Andy Brown with KDADS ended the night with a pledge to bring CIC beds to Shawnee County as soon as possible.

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