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Kansas City groups host town hall hoping to educate community about homelessness in city

Homelessness meeting
Posted at 10:10 PM, Jul 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-12 23:34:34-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — A neighborhood in the Historic Northeast in Kansas City, Missouri, faced a view of scattered trash and tents for over a year-and-a-half.

On Tuesday, it had been all cleaned up.

It's a piece of a bigger problem, one that local groups are working to solve.

From illegal homeless camps on private property, to city owned no trespassing signs.

People who live near Benton Boulevard say people took up illegal residence where a home burned down.

KSHB 41 News reported on the camps for months, and city officials came by to evaluate the area.

Josh Henges, KCMO's new houseless prevention coordinator, talked to the folks living there.

Henges said services were offered to them, but the camp remained.

KCMO officials say it’s because they were on private property, and the person who owned it was 1,100 miles away and unresponsive.

“I don’t know in this instance how it could have gone faster, because it was private property,” Henges said.

A spokesperson for KCMO recently says the property owner gave it over to the Land Bank of Kansas City, Missouri.

KSHB 41 news reached out to the Land Bank on the original private property’s choice to hand it over, but did not hear back.

According to the Land Bank’s website, their goal is to get the property back in local hands that creates good uses for the neighborhood.

On Tuesday night, KCMO council members, city staff and neighborhood leaders met in the Southeast Community Center for a town hall.

The town hall was led by Northeast Alliance Together (NEAT) and KC Regional Housing Alliance.

More than 70 more people joined in online, and the room was full.

“I think everyone in here is frustrated, and everyone in here is in search of answers,” Scott Wagner, the director of NEAT, said.

Henges said that the issue of homelessness continues because of how people think about it.

“A lot of worldview has to change around homelessness, because most people’s instincts about the problem and how to solve it aren’t correct,” Henges said. “But most people change their mind with good, new information and that’s the hope here tonight.”

“If you are here to figure it out together, you’re in the right place,” Wagner said.

The groups leading the conversation say they have plans to bring their solutions to city council again.