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Homeless population and panhandling growth concerning for metro residents

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- People living near Sterling and 40-Highway say the population in the area is increasing, but not legally.

But that's not the only complaint.

FOX4's Melissa Stern spoke with a woman who lives nearby who said the situation is turning dangerous.

“They`re getting more aggressive. They`re screaming at you. They`re trashing up the neighborhood. It`s gotten really bad, especially this summer. This summer is probably the worst I`ve ever seen it,” Angie Frank, who lives nearby, said.

Frank has called this neighborhood home for more than 20 years.

She said the panhandling and homeless population near and under the bridge at Sterling and I-70 is growing.

“Now, they`re coming up in my neighborhood, they`re coming to our door, and asking for money, they are sleeping in our neighbor`s yard multiple times,” Frank added.

She blamed the bus stop along her street for the issue.

She said many people are taking the bus in and spending the day, hanging out behind area stores, leaving behind needles, trash, and liquor bottles.

“They`re just more in your face aggressive, and they`re just multiplying,” Frank said. “Last week there was somebody just across the street that was in the grassy section, and as soon as I pulled into my driveway he was trying to approach me, and he was screaming at cars as they were driving by, and it just makes you feel unsafe and like a prisoner in your own home.”

Frank says she`s reached out to the city, MoDOT, and the police.

“They say their hands are tied, they`re not allowed to issue citations,” Frank said. “MoDOT has come out twice this summer and cleaned up, the last time was only two weeks ago, they provided trash cans for them, the trash cans disappear. Nothing is happening. They clean it up, they come back the next day.”

A spokeswoman for MoDOT said it`s a very big issue and the department plans to meet with the city and police soon to figure out how to better deal with the issue.

According to Kansas City, Missouri, Police, they are well aware of the issue, and are in contact with MoDOT about getting the area cleaned up.

They have also engaged members of the solid waste division of Kansas City to work on the issue through mitigation and prevention.

A spokesman for the department said the enforcement challenge originates with a non-existent/ineffective panhandling ordinance.

He also said they are actively looking for a solution to this challenge, and they welcome suggestions and solutions from those in the area that are affected by this.

“It`s frightening, it doesn't matter the age, or who it is, they`re just approaching you,” Frank said. “I think it`s killing our neighborhood, and it`s a nice, calm, older neighborhood.”

Frank said besides the neighbors she's spoken to in person, she said neighborhood groups online are talking about the issue, and she knows multiple people are calling to complain.