KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the third time in two days, Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas met with members of the KC Homeless Union and KC Tenants outside city hall, where a group of people experiencing homelessness have set up an encampment.
Councilwoman Ryana Parks-Shaw was also a part of the meeting.
Afterward, Lucas laid out solutions he plans to put in motion to address homelessness. And the leader of the KC Homeless Union said he was “optimistic.”
Here are some of the next steps Lucas said his office would take:
- By July 1, 2021: Offer housing opportunities to those who are unhoused through a “land bank transfer program.”
- Ramp up efforts to create municipal identification cards (a campaign promise).
- Introduce resolutions to address the encampment outside city hall.
- Introduce a resolution to make it easier for people experiencing homelessness to get jobs on construction projects and at other work sites.
- Increase the city’s commitment to providing hotel space to unhoused people on a transitional basis.
- Lucas said he had no plans to defund any existing shelters or organizations serving the unhoused population.
“This isn’t something that is about an eyesore or some superficial challenge,” Lucas said. “It’s about actually linking people to the help they need. I see our job right here is to actually find folks the help they need long-term. It is not about a short-term remedy; be it moving people or not moving people, that doesn’t get us anywhere. My question is how do I get the man who just talked to me about how he worked at the Marriott for a decade a job again.”
KC Homeless Union leader Qadhafi, who goes only by his first name, said his organization’s demands remain the same as when they presented them to city hall in February. One of the demands was for a “seat at the table” Qadhafi and others quite literally sat at a table with Lucas and Parks-Shaw to discuss solutions.
“For decades those directly impacted hadn’t had a voice and we finally found our voice and we challenge everything and everybody. If we’re not at the table, it’s fraudulent because we’re here to speak for ourselves,” he said.
On reports that the city asked the people in the encampment to leave, the mayor called it “noise” and reiterated his focus is to find long-term solutions.
Qadhafi predicted his group wouldn’t be outside city hall much longer, but did not say that was an outcome of orders to leave the premises.