In the News

Moran: Salina's Ashby House creates connections that tackle homelessness

Salina Journal | Charles Rankin

On Tuesday, Ashby House Executive Director Andy Houltberg told Sen. Jerry Moran that when it comes to homelessness, there's never a straightforward solution.

Moran visited Ashby House in Salina this week to learn about the work the organization is doing in the community. He was joined by a few Salina-area leaders in order to learn more about his constituents' wants for his work in the Capitol.

Houltberg explained to the senator that Ashby House is "empowering homeless families and individuals to improve self-sufficiency, self-advocacy and holistic recovery."

Houltberg said the organization started when members of the community saw a need in Salina.

"The need was for family and for women, there was no shelter," Houltberg said.

Needs have expanded

He said that need has expanded, and it's also evolved, so Ashby House works to solve needs from a holistic approach.

"When with deal with poverty or you deal with homelessness, there's a whole bunch of other issues, whether it be behavioral health or substance use that are part of the story," Houltberg said.

One unique thing about Ashby House is how it partners with other organizations in the community on-site to connect individuals with resources to tackle homelessness and addiction.

Moran commented that he sees Ashby House as a place for people to get the resources they need, even if it is not the direct provider of those resources.

"You create the environment for that to be available and bring the parties together," Moran said.

Moran asked how Ashby House is funded. In addition to federal funding going toward partners Ashby House works with, Houltberg said it also receives federal Emergency Solutions Grant funding that is funneled through the state.

Helping children as well as mothers

Apart from that, Ashby receives funding from private entities, foundations and some city of Salina money, including a portion of alcohol sales taxes the city collects.

"Unfortunately, there's always so much more need (than what can be given)," said Salina Mayor Melissa Hodges, who Moran invited to the visit with him.


Hodges said it broke her heart this year as Ashby House deals with women and families.                                                                                                                                                                 

"There's some ancillary needs there too," Hodges said. "If you're going to have people participate fully in these programs, you need to have things like childcare facilities."

Moran recognized this need as common in many aspects of society.

"Childcare is a problem in all areas of our lives," Moran said.

Houltberg said one way Ashby House helps is by not only working with women and mothers, but working with the children of those they serve.

"We're talking with other agencies that provide things like play therapy," Houltberg said. "While their mothers get treatment, the kids get treatment as well."

'We partner with others to provide the rest'

He said building a community is a big part of the holistic approach Ashby House wants to take for recovery and self-sufficiency.

"We want to focus on housing and case management," Houltberg said. "That's what we do and that's what we do well. And we want to partner with others to provide the rest."

Moran also went outside to see some of the current efforts of Ashby House, like the work on a house that was moved a few years ago and is set to be used additional sheltering for families. That morning, students from Salina Area Technical College were working under Kevin Waters, construction technology instructor.

Jessica Martin, executive director of the Greater Salina Community Foundation told Moran how partnerships are useful for the greater good of the Salina community.

"(What's great) with Ashby House, and Salina in general, is all the collaboration," Martin said. "You've hear them talk about partnerships."

She said community organizations find ways to do what they do well and let other organizations do what they do well.

Houltberg said these collaborations help with how finances are spent in the area too.

"It maximizes the donation dollars really," Houltberg said. "We're not duplicating services. It's work, like any relationship, it's a lot of work."

As the visit finished, Moran said he was thankful for being able to come and see what work was being done at Ashby House for the community.

"It's useful for me to know," Moran said. "Just knowing the lives of people as a result of this. We try to always ask the question of 'what can we do to help?'"