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KCMO unveils new efforts to address homelessness, city leaders receive updates on previous ones

Mayor Lucas at Bartle Hall
Posted at 10:33 PM, Apr 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-28 23:33:32-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On Wednesday, Kansas City, Missouri, revealed more efforts to address homelessness in the city by announcing a "tiny homes village."

It's got the necessities packed into 64 square feet and the city is using it as another way to put a roof over the heads of those experiencing homelessness.

"This isn't just a spot where you may get kicked out of in two days, right? This is something that's actually more yours, right? And then you get that ownership and pride," KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas said.

The plan is to create a village of these cabins which will have about 140 beds to serve as transitional housing. Its location is yet to be determined.

The project named "Verge" is the idea of "Merging KC," whose co-founder and president Houston Defoe, said will provide social services and other resources to people experiencing homelessness.

"To have caseworkers on 24 hours a day, seven days a week is kind of a game changer. A lot of times our houseless friends don't get to see their case worker because they're living in the woods or behind a building," Defoe said.

The city will use federal stimulus money to purchase the tiny homes that start at $4,900 and last 10 years.

"The overall operating costs year to year are much lower than having a giant building," Defoe said.

The tiny homes village could also be cheaper than booking hotels room which the city has done for almost three weeks as a temporary solution following protests outside City Hall and near Westport.

On Wednesday, the housing committee heard an update from the hospitality group that's coordinating efforts among the more than a dozen hotels offering rooms to people experiencing homelessness.

The cost, which will be paid for by U.S. Department Housing funds, is a moving target.

"We don't have a firm number because we're getting reports weekly from each hotel and the numbers go up and down every day and every week," KCMO city manager Brian Platt said. "Also, the rates that we were being charged have gone down almost half, so that the total net cost over time is going to go down dramatically."

"I think the council and the city needs to know what the endgame is, and how we actually get something meaningful to people. I don't want to be in a position where we're spending more on something very temporary," Dan Fowler, who represents KCMO's second district said.