Group tackles largest urban redevelopment project in the metro

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A nonprofit group is working to buy 425 blighted homes for what would be the largest scattered site redevelopment project the metro area has seen.

The rehabbed homes may help improve other problems that are dragging neighborhoods down.

The "Restore the Core" campaign seeks to make homes livable again in Kansas City, Independence, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan.

"It’s the only way to make a difference," said Bill Kimble, a developer with Neighborhoods United. "As long as we keep cherry picking houses, two or three over here, four or five over there, we will not make a dent the way we are supposed to. When we get an abundance of homes and rehab them all at one time then we can start seeing measurable differences."

Through a partnership with the cities, the Economic Development Corporation and the Mid-America Regional Council, Neighborhoods United will spend $17.5-million during an eight year period to bring dilapidated buildings back to life.
Homeless veterans like Thomas Gray are among those on a waiting list for a decent place to live in the city that they can afford.

"You are really killing two birds with one stone," Gray said. "You’re taking care of these blighted properties in the city, which are an eyesore, and you’re trying to make a dent into a problem that’s big for Kansas City. This homeless problem, it’s a big thing, it’s something that will take everybody to fix."

As homes are rehabbed, developers and the cities will measure how they impact living standards around them, including murders and premature deaths, the unemployment rate and asthma among children.

Neighborhoods United believes rehabbed housing alone can also improve these other urban living issues.

Homeless veterans and disabled individuals make up many of those moving into the completed homes.

Neighborhoods United takes the rent people pay, to plow into more rehab projects.