Waldo apartment complex construction causing concern for area businesses

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A new apartment building for youth who have aged out of foster care is going up in Waldo. Some residents and businesses in the neighborhood are saying 'anywhere but here.'

Construction is in the works for 14 apartments for 18 to 24 year olds who need a permanent home.  Two business owners say this isn't an appropriate place for them.

"A lot of people that have been coming in they've all been talking about how they're going to put their houses on the market, and a couple of my friends that own property in the business world over here said they will sell," said Becky Hamrick, owner of Bobby Baker's Lounge in Waldo.

"It kind of puts a different look on the area," added Bette Smith, co-owner of Dave Smith the Lamp Maker in Waldo.

Some area business owners are upset this new apartment building is being built at Washington and Wornall, near 75th Street.

"We had a voice when they wanted to put in Walmart, so I'm not quite understanding why we don't have a voice now," Hamrick said.

Evie Craig, the president and CEO of Restart Inc. -- the sponsor of this HUD grant --says there are 10,000 kids in Missouri about to age out of foster care.  She says many of them will become homeless.

"We're getting them into education, were getting them into employment," said Craig.

In Missouri, you can stay in the foster care system until age 21. But she's hoping these young adults have permanent housing in an area that meets a certain levels of amenities.

"Had to be on transportation lines, had to be in walking distance to drug stores, laundry," Craig added.

Craig says she's aware that some people are opposed to this project.

"I have a friend whose home backs right up into it and was not even notified, and he's going to try and sell his house, but he knows he's already lost the value of it," said Hamrick.

But Craig says many times kids are in and out of foster homes, and says this will give them a more stable atmosphere.

"We want to get these kids in, get them settled, we'll also have a resident manager so there will be someone there on site," Craig said.

It will take about eight to 10 months for construction. A neighborhood meeting is scheduled for Saturday, March 14 at 10 a.m. at the Waldo library for any comments and questions about the project.

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