Kansas City leaders consider selling $1 homes to help address homelessness and housing crisis

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City leaders are considering a plan to use Land Bank homes to help people who are experiencing homelessness or at-risk of becoming homeless. 

After four years of unpaid taxes, homes are put on the auction block. If the home is not purchased at a county auction, ownership is shifted to the Kansas City Land Bank.

Some of these homes have been boarded up for years, but inspectors say they are structurally sound. 

“We’ve got these properties, and they’re just sitting here,” John Baccala, Kansas City Land Bank spokesman said. “We could get buy in from neighborhood groups or nonprofits, to see the good in rehabbing these homes.” 

Right now, there are 111 Land Bank homes in the city. Most of them are in the 3rd and 5th districts. City leaders are ironing out the details of a plan to offer these land bank properties to sell for $1. The homes would be sold to groups or organizations that would rehab them and let individuals who make less than $18,000 a year live in them. The homes will need a lot of work to become livable again. 

“You think you can do it because you saw something on DIY Network? Not going to happen,” Baccala said. “You’re going to have to have a high level of expertise to fix these homes. You’re going to have to have financial stability to fix these homes.” 

The city would likely require proof of the funds and construction experience to buy a Land Bank home. One woman we spoke to says she already put $140,000 into one home. City officials say fixing up the abandoned homes will also benefit others in the neighborhood. 

“You’ll see somebody fix one of these up and then you’ll see the neighbor, working on their yard or on their roof or they’ll paint their house,” Baccala said. “There’s a residual value that just goes throughout the neighborhood, and you can’t really put a dollar amount on that value stabilized.” 

City leaders are still finalizing the details of the program. In the meantime, anyone who is interested can tour Land Bank homes. 

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