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KC Homeless Union leaves city’s Houseless Task Force

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Posted at 6:51 AM, Oct 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-05 07:51:27-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The leader of the Kansas City Homeless Union says his group will no longer participate in the city’s Houseless Taskforce, which meets Tuesday afternoon.

Qadhafi, otherwise known as James Shelby, criticized the task force as being all talk and not enough action.

“We realize the cavalry isn’t coming, we all we got,” he said. “We are the people we’ve been waiting on, so we’re going to do for ourselves.”

He is working to create a company called Qadhafi’s Independent Contractors, which will employ people experiencing homelessness to work odd jobs like cleaning litter from the highway.

Monday, union members cleaned up an old homeless camp along Interstate 670 in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, through the Missouri Department of Transportation’s adopt a highway program.

Qadhafi is hopeful the volunteer work will lead to an agreement where the department contracts and pays the union to do more work.

“We’re helping clean up the city, rather than tear it down” Qadhafi pointed out. “Contrary to what people may say about us, the opposite is true. We’re doing what we need to be doing. We are humans, we want our corner back, our dignity and our respect.”

The city council approved a plan in August requiring the city manager to study the needs, strengths and weaknesses of existing providers serving the homeless population in the city.

Brian Platt has until the end of the year to complete the study. Then the city council ordered Platt to create a strategic plan using information from the needs assessment by the end of February 2022.

“We have been having a lot of meetings and discussions, individual meetings with service providers, as well, to talk about some of the challenges they’re experiencing and how we can improve those systems so we can be more effective and create some sustainable solutions,” explained councilwoman Ryana Parks-Shaw during a city meeting in August.

The Houseless Task Force, which Parks-Shaw chairs, is expected to get an update on Platt’s needs assessment during its virtual meeting Tuesday.