A Kansas City rugby team is camping out on top of a building until they raise $25,000 to help house homeless families in the metro area, according to local news reports.
The Kansas City Blues Rugby Club climbed up to the roof on Thursday afternoon to “camp-out for cash,” local broadcast news affiliate Fox News 4 reported.
The money they raise will go to River of Refuge, a transitional living center in the former Park Lane Hospital that is set to open soon, according to its website. An estimated 400 working families are living in motels with their children on any given night throughout the Kansas City metro area, the NGO said, reported KCTV5, another local broadcaster.
The idea is to get families out of one-room hotel lodgings and into a home where they can flourish and be productive. The rugby team is camping atop the former hospital where River of Refuge intends to house prospective tenants, Fox News 4 reported. The money they raise will go toward opening the first 11 apartments to working parents and their children.
The former hospital grounds have remained vacant for more than a decade, according to KMBC-TV, another local broadcaster. River of Refuge purchased the building with plans to develop it into low-income housing units for homeless families in the Kansas City area.
“This acquisition of this hospital and everything here is done by donations,” said John Wiley, founder of River of Refuge, reported KMBC-TV. “We don’t have a foundation behind us. It’s all by the donors of Kansas City.”
Wiley noted that he hoped the housing would help to keep families out of motels and off the streets.
“They are one missed paycheck, one missed paycheck away from being in our shelters here. We have wonderful homeless shelters in Kansas City, great organizations,” he said. “We’re here to catch these families before they become homeless and in our shelters.”
River of Refuge installed a working fire sprinkler system in the former hospital to bring it up to code, according to KCTV5. The project cost more than $100,000.
“We created a strong relationship with River of Refuge during our off-season this year and we’re so excited to be working with an organization that is doing such good work,” said Derek Mannell, Kansas City Blues Rugby Club president, reported KCTV5. “It’s rewarding to be a part of something for which we can truly see lives being changed and an organization able to build something like these new apartments for local homeless families.”
Families have to show initiative and must be approved to move into the center, which is meant to be transitional, KCTV5 added. The head of each household must be employed and must regularly make deposits into a savings account.
“We hope that when we open River of Refuge with the community’s help, we can help reduce the burden on the area’s family homeless shelters, which we know are already at capacity,” Wiley said.
As of Thursday afternoon, the squad had raised about $5,000.