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Kansas City looking for community partners to tackle homeless issues

The city of Kansas City has announced several new initiatives to address the homeless crisis. They include repurposing vacant homes and connecting the homeless community with resources to help lift them out of poverty.

A homeless camp outside City Hall is a constant reminder to leaders of the persistent challenge of homelessness in Kansas City. Under one plan announced Thursday, vacant homes could become shelters for those who need them.

“I know a lot of people have experienced not know where you’re going to sleep that night; I’ve known that,” Mayor Quinton Lucas said as he joined city leaders at Hope Faith Ministries.

READ: Local groups kick off homeless effort


Brian Platt

The group announced a new program that would sell vacant land bank properties for $1, with stipulations. More than 100 homes are available, and the city hopes nonprofits, faith-based groups and other service providers will answer the call. Another plan centers on Barney Allis Plaza. The city hopes to add hundreds of affordable housing units on top of the downtown parking structure when it’s rebuilt.

“We’re looking at this parking deck and a significant requirement of financial investment and realized that if we’re going be spending a lot of city resources, we should get something out of it, some sort of public benefit,” City Manager Brian Platt said. “We hope that this will provide housing for those who are most in need and that it will serve to increase the supply of housing,. That is often the top of the list when we talk about one of the biggest challenges when we’re addressing homelessness and affordable housing.”

READ: City Union Mission serving homeless

The mayor and several city council members also have introduced an ordinance to create a standalone housing department to focus on affordable housing, homelessness and tenants’ rights.

As long-term projects move forward, Lucas said the city is committed to working with community partners to connect the homeless community with the resources they need right now. “What we’re trying to do as a city is to make sure we have a place for people to go, we have a place for people to get services,” he said, “and that’s where our priority is going to be.”

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice