With more opposition against new KC homeless ordinance, advocates feel abandoned

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Don Bosco Center became the site of tense conversation and back-and-forth between constituents and a Kansas City councilmember on Wednesday.

Many were opposed to the Columbus Park neighborhood becoming the new home of a homeless village. Others neighborhoods have also voiced their concerns about the city having broad powers to set up homeless camps wherever it chooses.

“Do I want to look out my window and see a homeless, a fenced homeless camp, set up here in Columbus Park? Of course I don’t,” Columbus Park resident Max Evans said. “I don’t think anyone wants to see that. There has to be a better — this seems like a very short-term solution.”

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.

Councilman Eric Bunch, who represents the area, did not directly denounce the ordinance but promised he would block it from happening in the community.

“Clearly the neighborhood is not in favor of having this in their neighborhood,” he said. “I was never suggesting that it would go in this neighborhood, and I wouldn’t suggest in any residential neighborhood. We have to be mindful of location on things of this nature.”

Bunch said he will propose an amendment to the homeless village ordinance before council to allow for more public comment on the topic.

According to a city spokesperson, Kansas City leaders have not confirmed a location for the proposed tiny homes village for homeless. The city said Columbus Park has not been part of any discussions about potential locations, but the city has not provided a list of any potential locations.

Meanwhile, those who advocate for the homeless are feeling abandoned.

“If we have no home, we are homeless. We are everywhere. We are homeless tenants at large. People saying they don’t want us their neighborhood is wrong,” said Qadhafi, a spokesperson for the Kansas City Homeless Union.

Qadhafi said people are forgetting are these people in need.

He said homeless people were never given the proper wrap-around services, and future housing is, once again, on the line.

“This is what a seat at the table don’t look like. A seat at the table would include us in decision-making process,” Qadhafi said. “Overall total F-minus in grade for the city. They just abandoned us. Set us up to fail.”

The full council will consider the proposed ordinance Thursday.

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