KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Squatters can take refuge in abandoned properties, sometimes setting damaging fires during colder months. Residents in one Kansas City neighborhood are trying to alleviate the issue.
The Indian Mound Neighborhood Association has begun recruiting families to fix up the properties and live in them.
"We want our residents to stay here,” said Beth Beavers, secretary for the Indian Mound Neighborhood Association. “Affordable housing is really important to us."
Members of the association are tracking the number of abandoned properties in the neighborhood while working with Legal Aid of Western Missouri to create a local Urban Homesteading program and see who can qualify for the Abandoned Housing Act. That would allow the neighborhood association to take possession of the property and deed it to a family that agrees to renovate the house.
"We want families in our neighborhood,” Beavers said. “We have a lot of schools around here. We have a lot of other families with children, so we really want people who are going to come here and be a part of the neighborhood.”
They are not looking to displace anybody, and there are parameters the association is working within.
"It needs to be empty,” Beavers said. “It needs to have some sort of back taxes. We usually wait until it's two to three years back taxes.”
The potential homeowners also will have to prove they can pay for renovations. Beavers said she hopes the program will bring more pride to the neighborhood as there's more owner-occupants.
"We know our median income is on the lower end,” Beavers said. “We still think people deserve homes no matter what. They should be able to buy them.”
Anyone aware of abandoned properties in the Indian Mounds neighborhood is asked to contact the association at firstname.lastname@example.org.