Homeless camp returns to Westport after city’s hotel program ends

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A day after Kansas City ended its homeless hotel program, tents are back up in Westport.

About a dozen tents were placed in the intersection of Westport Road and Southwest Trafficway.

The Midwest Homeless Collective posted on their Facebook page that the camp was back after the hotel program ended.

“Despite weeks of negotiation, the city is refusing to extend the hotel housing initiative. As a result, hundreds of our houseless comrades will be displaced from hotels to the streets over the next 48 hours. The only thing that has changed is the weather over the last 90 days,” the post said.

The 90 day program providing free hotel rooms for area homeless ended Thursday.

Throughout the program more than 400 people utilized the free hotel services, on the last day, 270 people were counted as utilizing the hotel space.

According to the city of Kansas City, hundreds received government assistance, 50 people found jobs and 220 people received medical care.

A baby was also safely delivered during the program.

The city provided this statement to FOX4:

For the past few weeks, our service providers have been working with clients in hotels, preparing for today by helping them secure other accommodations, including using existing shelters and moving in with family and friends. As of yesterday, more than 200 shelter beds were available at City Union Mission for single males and there were rooms there for families and single females. This doesn’t include beds available at existing shelters. The city also secured 30 apartments in a 55+ senior living facility. 

As far as moving forward:

Affordable housing is an important part of the work to help those currently experiencing homelessness and to prevent others from becoming homeless. The City Manager has created a draft of a strategic plan to create more affordable housing. The public is invited to read the draft of “A Vision for Housing” and provide comments and feedback: https://www.kcmo.gov/city-hall/housing

The plan includes the goal of creating 10,000 affordable housing units (homes, apartments) in the next five years using a combination of strategies including tiny home communities, $1 Land Bank homes and existing city vacant lots all while bringing the unhoused and housing insecure population to the table to create solutions.

Also – We currently have a contract before a city council committee that would appropriate money to create a “tiny homes” village with full social services onsite. It’s called “Verge”. These would be pallet-style homes. The first phase would provide 200 beds for emergency transitional housing for the unhoused community.

In addition to addressing immediate and urgent needs, the City Council has been working on polices:

The City Council approved new legal requirements for developers to include affordable housing units or offset the lack of affordable units by paying into the housing trust fund.

The City Council created the Houseless Task Force. The task force, comprised of councilmembers and advocates for the unhoused, will develop ways the city can best partner with the community to resolve homelessness issues.

Plus, the newly creating Department of Housing and Community Development has dedicated resources and staffing to support tenant advocacy, homelessness prevention and support, affordable housing preservation and creation and overall community development.

Honestly, the city feels very proud of the efforts in the last 90 days.

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