Community calls for action after proposals to address homelessness are held for 2 weeks

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) — Community members are calling for quick action to offer shelter to people who are living in homeless camps as an Excessive Heat Watch will remain in effect in Kansas City from Friday afternoon through Wednesday of next week.

Three proposals to help members of the homeless community were held Wednesday and instead will be discussed in two weeks at a Finance, Governance and Public Safety committee meeting.

Several speakers asked city leaders to stop delaying decisions on a pallet community and other possible solutions that are aimed at increasing the number of beds available to people who do not have a place to live.

On Wednesday, speakers received two minutes to make their voices heard on what steps they believe city leaders should take. Some spoke out against the recent decision to move a homeless encampment from the Westport area to Penn Valley Park.

“I don’t think any of you understand the trauma every sweep causes our houseless friends,” resident Winifred Jamieson said. “It is an act of violence.”

City leaders are expected to discuss a resolution on Aug. 4 that would allow the city to enter into a contract to construct temporary shelters for approximately 200 beds. The resolution has been held on the docket several times since it was filed in May.

“We’re also the ones that have to go into those tents and find bodies. We’re also the ones that have people come up to us and have their toes and their fingers falling off from frostbite,” co-founder of Merging KC, Inc. Jennifer McCartney said. “These are the things that we see every day.”

Fourth District-at-Large Councilwoman Katheryn Shields said she supports a plan to turn the Adam’s Mark Hotel into shelter for families with children who are unhoused.

Most speakers said solutions cannot continue to be tabled for further discussion. Instead, action is needed.

“We’ve had folks die in the streets when we actually could have prevented it,” Executive Director of Consolidated Social Work Services Inc. Ester Holzendorf said. “We all know I’m guilty. We could have prevented it.”

“There is no urgency,” Kansas City Homeless Union spokesperson Qadhafi said. “I invite the city council to go and become homeless, live in your car until the decision is made.”

If approved, the pallet community–along with security offices and additional services–could cost approximately $1.7 million.

Another proposal to assess vacant or under-utilized properties in Kansas City that can be converted to housing for low-income and unhoused people through acquisition or other means will also be discussed on Aug. 4.