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A look at the issue of homelessness in KCMO in 2021, as future remains uncertain

Westport homeless camp sweep July 2021
Posted at 10:22 PM, Jul 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-18 23:22:51-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tackling homelessness in Kansas City, Missouri, became a priority at the start of the year when two men died in the cold. One of them was Scott Eicke.

"This happens every winter," Amanda Eisenmann, with the Kansas City Homeless United said following Eicke's death. "It happens every summer, it's not just the cold."

What started as a pair of warming tents in February at Westport road and Southwest Trafficway, turned into a form of protest.

Organizers called it "Camp 6ixx," a nickname for Eicke.

The houseless also set up camp in front of KCMO City Hall, and when a warming center at Bartle Hall closed in late March, both camps grew in size.

Soon after, the city came up with a deal to pay for 500 hotel rooms for 90 days, as they figured out what to do next. About 400 people took them up on their offer.

At the end of April, the city unveiled a proposal for a tiny homes village as a form of transitional housing.

But the plan has moved at a snail's pace through City Hall with worries about cost and where it would go.

This despite the Department of Housing and Urban Development allocating in May, more than $8 million so the city could address issues related to homelessness.

Then, last week, the clock ran out on the hotel rooms sending people back out on the streets.

It wasn't long before Camp 6ixx was back up on Westport Road until Sunday morning, when trash crews and police showed up to clear them out.

KSHB 41 News requested on-camera interviews with KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas and/or City Manager Brian Platt to discuss the sweep.

A city spokesperson referred us to a statement sent out earlier in the day, that mentioned what happened in Westport was part of a citywide effort to make sure litter, improper storage and tenting isn't happening in the public right of way. They emphasized KCMO offered resources to the houseless.

In January, Lucas expressed opposition to conducting homeless camps sweeps.

"I arguably really don't think we should be doing sweeps anyway," Lucas said during interview in January. "We need to look at a more humane process."

Those staying at Camp 6ixx in Westport were relocated to The Scout near Penn Valley Park not knowing what's next.