KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Residents with disabilities at Heart Village Mobile Homes with disabilities say their lives are being ruined to make way for a new Jackson County jail.
More than 100 households are being moved from the trailer park after Jackson County purchased the land.
Jackson County officials said the vast majority of residents relocated without major issue. So far 94 out of 106 have already been relocated — with another eight of those tenants scheduled to leave within the week.
The rest face evictions.
But there’s new deadline to leave for remaining tenants at the Heart Village Mobile Home Park. Jackson County said that date is now May 1.
That deadline has been floated multiple times before with county officials saying remaining tenant complaints have been widely self-inflicted.
KC Tenants claims the county has compensated some and supported some in their efforts to find new places to live. But the group said others have not received full compensation.
Urban Schaefer lives on social security and a VA pension. During Monday’s Jackson County Legislature meeting, he said that it has been hard navigating his relocation process from Heart Village because of his disability.
“I got shot three times in Vietnam, and so my mobility is very limited,” Schaefer said.
The veteran said the county damaged his trailer during the move and has yet to build a wheelchair ramp that he was promised.
“They were supposed to have gotten me a handicap ramp, and that was three months ago. My scooter’s outside. That ramp has not been built,” Schaefer said.
His complaints about his new residence mesh with his tricky issues remaining at Heart Village where he said his sons remain, squatting in the trailer he lived in. That led to the eviction notice he got because his name was on the lease.
“They need to stop and cease all evictions against me and every other resident there,” Schaefer said. “If they can’t move the residents, why file an eviction on them and ruin their lives?”
But county officials said this situation is not typical.
“As long as people are working in good faith, we won’t do the eviction,” Jackson County Administrator Troy Schulte said. “But once we have an agreement and they violate the agreement, then we will pursue all of our legal remedies.”
Schulte said the county intentionally took an approach that was not “cookie-cutter” to address the relocation. But he said remaining issues come from tenants not communicating or breaking agreements with the county for which they already received money.
“So the county could have said, ‘You have 30 days and you’re out.’ They were all just month-to-month leases,” Schulte said.
But residents want all formal eviction proceedings halted against those who lived or are still living at the mobile home park. They also want full and proper compensation for all those being relocated, with resident approval for each relocation plan.
“I think the county took the noble step by saying we’re going to provide for relocation. We’ve provided 21 of those residents have been able to use the county dollars to help them buy a house. We think that’s a good story,” Schulte said.
And finally, those at the county legislature meeting Monday called for an audit of all the relocation money spent and the relocation contracts awarded by Jackson County.
County legislators did not comment after they spoke during the legislative meeting.
The construction of the new Jackson County Detention Center will be a three-year process with the contractor starting work in June. It is slated for completion in 2024.