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KCMO announces '$1 land bank program,' other efforts to address homelessness

Homeless camp in Westport grows
Posted at 1:17 PM, Mar 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-25 18:21:28-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — As many people are experiencing homelessness in Kansas City, Missouri, city leaders and community organizers announced a number of efforts to help those in need.

In Westport, Camp 6ixx, which is a homelessness camp meant to be a protest and call on city leaders to action to address the issue, has continued to grow.

The camp first developed in Feb. to house people experiencing homelessness during dangerous temperatures.

Thursday, Mayor Quinton Lucas, in conjunction with several city council members, introduced an ordinance to create a standalone housing department.

“We’re not waiting for next winter to step up. We’re looking at our opportunities now. We need to change how we address everything in housing," Lucas said.

In addition, the office of the tenant advocate will be fully funded in the proposed city budget.

Funding for the office of the tenant advocate is something local advocacy group KC Tenants had been pushing for.

“We’ve had shelters, we’ve had warming centers. Those things have always been going on, but without actually following the leadership and the demands of the people who are actually impacted, the mark will always be missed," Jenay Manley, KC Tenants leader, said.

The group even showed up last month for a budget input meeting.

"Housing is not an afterthought, for too long we've given John Wood and his staff so many responsibilities," Lucas said. "We've said figure this out, figure that out, but what we haven't done is say 'where's the resources?'"

City Manager Brian Platt also announced the city will sell land bank properties to local nonprofits, faith-based organizations and individuals for $1.

They will then need to renovate the properties in order to provide housing to people in need.

The Kansas City Neighborhood Housing Services Association will hold a virtual and in-person meeting to allow people to give their input regarding the $1 program.

The meeting will happen on April 1 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

In addition, the city is working to build hundreds of affordable housing units.

“One of the biggest things that come up in those discussions is that we need to allocate staff, dedicated staff, to make sure that we have a point person to be handling these things, that we’re developing and drafting the right policies and that we’re coordinating with all of our partners," Platt said.