Kansas City neighbors oppose proposal to set up homeless shelters without their input

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Strong opposition is gearing up to fight a plan to set up homeless shelters on any city property without neighbors’ approval.

Opponents say neighbors should not be shut out of the selection process.

Property owners in Columbus Park, Scarritt Renaissance and other neighborhoods say they don’t want the city to have broad powers to set up homeless camps wherever they choose.

There’s been a lot of reinvestment in many neighborhoods recently and some don’t want to see that momentum stopped by an arbitrary city planner’s decision to put homeless camps in neighborhood parks or on other city sites.

The fear is that rising property values would be adversely impacted and neighborhood harmony disrupted.

Opponents claim neighbors would have no say, no appeal process and only 30 days of notice to prepare for a homeless community to move in.

“We don’t know where they are going to put it,” said Max Evans, a Columbus Park property owner opposed to the temporary government-sponsored shelter ordinance. “At this point, they could put it in Loose Park. I wonder what the folks over in those homes, that cost five times what these homes cost, would think of something of that nature? The point is, from my understanding of the ordinance as it is written, they don’t have to get any permission from anybody. City staff is allowed to make those decisions on their own. That just seems like a bit of an overreach.”

Councilwoman Kathryn Shields has called the proposal the “wrong approach” in a letter to constituents.

She wrote that the camps could be semi-permanent and house hundreds of people.

The proposed ordinance says temporary shelters can operate for up to a year.

There’s a meeting at the Don Bosco Center in Columbus Park at 6 p.m. Wednesday to discuss neighbors’ concerns.

The full city council will consider the proposed ordinance Thursday.

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