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Remaining Heart Mobile Village residents struggle to find housing

Zoila Guzman
Posted at 8:06 PM, Apr 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-24 17:39:59-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Zoila Guzman is one of the 13 residents who remain at Heart Mobile Village, and she hopes her luck can change soon. 

"I just need a place to live. A safe place to live and just get over with all this," Guzman said.

KSHB 41 News last spoke with Guzman toward the end of February when Jackson County wanted the site cleared out to prepare the land to build its new jail. 

But the county extended its deadline by two months to give residents more time to find housing, which brought KSHB 41 back to the site on Highway 40 on Friday.

Guzman says it's tough searching for affordable housing in this market.

"The cheapest is like $35,000 — you are talking about real bad conditions. They need a lot of money, at least five—60,000 just to get it flexible for me," Guzman said.  

She claims the county was generous to offer $35,000 instead of $20,000 for relocation fees but are now on the fence.  

When KSHB 41 asked Jackson County Administrator Troy Schulte if there was ever a mention of $35,000, he clarified that not all developments qualify for the amount.

"That is the maximum we would go to because that's what we've incurred for cost to do relocation assistance and move a trailer," Schulte said. "So again, to be fair, for folks, that's kind of our maximum number. But again, they've got to be a specific development plan that we can work with."

Guzman and her team of advocates came close to finding a potential home, but with Guzman not having any source of income because of her handicap, they lost out. 

With a timeline looming and no concrete solution, Schulte says his team will ensure Guzman is not homeless.

"We will not let her end up on the streets, but she's got to work with us," Schulte said.

While many tenants have already moved out, the county said it has started eviction proceedings on at least three residents. One resident hasn't been heard from since the sale occurred, according to Schulte.

For the remaining families, the county is working to move them out over the next week or so. 

"No process is perfect, but this has gone about as well as you could expect, given the size and magnitude of the relocation," Schulte said.

Speed in relocating all families is especially pertinent as county lawmakers will review an ordinance Monday morning that sets asides almost $3 million for a contractor to come up with a design for the future detention center that's projected to cost more than $256 million. 

"I don't ask for any more than what they're taking from me. I mean, if they take my house, of course I want a house," Guzman said. "And I know they have the money, they have the power. I know it's not a problem for them."

Schulte says the site needs to be ready for the contractor by June 1.