KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) — A property on 43rd and Troost Avenue currently housing several homeless people is in the middle of a back and forth between the owner and community members.
Dontavious Young, the owner of Equal Minded Café and Event Center, is calling for the building to be torn down.
“It’s Kansas City’s biggest drug house, as I’ve always said,” Young said. “People come there from all over the city who are homeless in need or maybe not even homeless just want a place to do drugs. They come there to do it and they endanger our businesses when they come do that”
Young said his complaint has fallen on deaf ears for years. Young and other neighbors have been fighting to get the building torn down, especially since it sits right next to an active daycare center.
On Saturday, the building caught fire, leaving Young to believe it was the last straw.
“If this would have been a weekday and that place would have caught on fire kids would have been in danger,” he said.
Jerry Crowell currently owns the building. He told KCTV5 the fire was an accident and that his facility is not a drug spot, but a space to help those who are less fortunate.
“There are people that don’t like what I’m doing but more of the people do,” he said.
Crowell mentioned the building is not a shelter, but homeless individuals do stay around the outside of the property. He also feeds them there.
“A lot of people that come by and drive by tell me when they see it it makes them happy,” he said.
Melissa Ferrer, who lives next door from the building, says Jerry’s Building is a bright spot for the neighborhood.
“In a time when I think all over the country people are wondering is there any good happening this is just an example of good,” she said.
The Kansas City Police Department says since January 2019, they’ve been called 23 times to the building for disturbances, suspicious persons or an emotionally disturbed party.
The building has been on the Dangerous Building list since 2008. However, the owner retained legal help in an effort to save it. In the last two-plus years, the owner made enough progress on rehabbing the property, including adding a new roof to keep them from demolishing the building.
Young says he supports Crowell’s effort to help the homeless, but this just isn’t the right way.