KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The city’s homeless advocates are keeping a close eye on next Tuesday’s election.
A sliver of potential tax money from recreational marijuana sales could bolster efforts to confront homelessness.
Voters will decide whether to tack on a new three percent sales tax, some of which would be used to help the houseless via the city’s Zero KC program.
Reducing the number of people from calling Kansas City’s streets their address is a priority. The ongoing Zero KC plan takes center stage on Wednesday, as city leaders seek dollars to help speed the project.
“We need to know how much this is going to cost, and how long it’s going to take,” said Josh Henges, Kansas City’s homeless coordinator.
Henges is among city leaders who hope voters say yes on April 4. He also cites research indicating Kansas City needs 40,000 more affordable housing units, which is another tenet of Zero KC.
“We are ranked last in the country in our ability to shelter chronically home individual, which means, we have to go up. We have to get better at this,” Henges said.
Marqueia Watson, who leads the Greater Kansas City Coalition to End Homeless, said she’s personally experienced periods where she was without a home. Watson emphasizes that despite public belief, not everyone in those tent villages intends to be there.
“I think these are choices made by whole societies. It’s incumbent on us as members of the community to also be part of this process,” Watson said.
The pandemic caused thousands of Americans to become homeless for the first time.
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Henges advises this won’t be an overnight process. The soonest tangible results can be expected from this would be a year from now, but if voters approve the funding, the time table could accelerate.