Controversial study may force some from their Hyde Park homes

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A controversial study on crime within a concentrated area of Hyde Park has caused some residents to fear they may soon be pushed out of their homes. The study is expected to go before the Kansas City Planning Committee at some point.

"They want this area to be what they want it to be. They don’t want us to live here.” Bainbridge resident Earline Brown said.

Brown and her family have lived in the Bainbridge Apartments for the last four years. She started a petition after she found out Kansas City commissioned the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority (PIEA) to complete a “Blight Study.”

The study concentrates on the Armour/Gillham Corridor and includes several housing projects such as Bainbridge Apartments, the Georgian Court Apartments and the Linda Vista Apartments.

According to the study, focus groups with residents, business owners and property owners were held. The study concluded high crime rates made Bainbridge, Georgian Court and Linda Vista Apartments social liabilities.

But Brown claims the voices of residents were not included in the study and fears the study may be used as an argument to force residents out of the apartments.

"They don't know my family, they don't know my husband, they don't know my child," Brown said.

Chris Hernandez, a spokesperson for the city, said there has been no discussion about removing Bainbridge, Georgian Court or Linda Vista Apartments.

"We want the neighborhood and the building owners to work this out. We understand they’re trying, we want them to work it out in a way that both can be happy," Hernandez said.

According to Laura Burns, CEO of Eagle Point Companies -- the owner of the Bainbridge, Georgian Court and Vista apartments -- the company was blindsided by the study.

“We don’t understand why the city saw a need for a ‘Blight Study’ but we are happy to have a dialogue with the city about improving the community,” she said.

Eagle Point Companies took over the properties in 2006 and made major renovations to the housing projects. In a statement released by the company, it claims the study is “baseless.”

Eagle Point Companies points out that the study reveals there was a dramatic decrease in crime in the area in the last several years.

But other residents of Hyde Park such as Eugene Morgan, president of the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association, applaud the study. He hopes it will open a dialogue about reorganizing Hyde Park residents in public housing.

"It's not a good thing to have a high concentration of poor folks in one huge building. It just causes more problems than it solves. We should be looking at ways to disperse that population in good housing that residents want to be in," Morgan said.

That is the dialogue that scares people like Brown and her family.

"I want to live here in this community. I don’t want to move," she said. 

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