City of Kansas City, MO

10/27/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/27/2021 14:17

KCMO Houseless Update and Winter Preparedness


(Note to editors and reporters: Staff will present this information to the City Council during the Business Session Thursday at 2 pm at City Hall, 26th floor)

As the national housing and homelessness crisis continues, Kansas City leaders share plans for the city's most vulnerable residents to have a safe and warm place to go this winter when extreme temperatures hit. The strategy will focus on 3 key items:

  1. Enhanced collaboration with existing shelters to pinpoint available beds and ensure that service providers fully utilize resources, including creation of a new online dashboard that updates bed availability daily, with data sharing across all service providers.
  2. Preparing overflow space such as community centers as needed when extreme weather or other emergencies increase the demand for services
  3. Creative new permanent housing options, including three new permanent housing projects to be presented to the City Council this week (more info below).

"Bold and creative housing options are the focus in our efforts to build 10,000 new affordable housing units over the next five years," said City Manager Brian Platt. "Permanent, supportive housing will be crucial to ending homelessness for so many of our residents."

The Houseless Task Force, chaired by Councilmember Ryana Parks-Shaw, has engaged with community members and led discussions to better understand the needs of unhoused people in Kansas City.

"The community's input has been so important in creating new and better policies," said Fifth District Councilmember Ryana Parks-Shaw. "The issues surrounding houselessness are vast and won't be solved in one year. This is a positive step in the right direction to provide compassionate, sustainable and intentional solutions to end houselessness in Kansas City. We still have more work to do."

The Housing and Community Development department will update the City Council about plans for helping Kansas City's houseless community this winter at the Business Session on Thursday, October 28 at 2 PM at City Hall.

"Thanks to a collaborative effort by city staff, housing staff and our community assistance partners, we have a plan to keep those needing shelter this winter safe, warm and out of the elements," said Jennifer Tidwell, Housing and Community Development Interim Director.

Additionally, staff will present three preferred proposals for creative and innovative new permanent supportive housing options. These proposals were submitted during the recent Request for Proposals (RFP) and will be presented to the City Council for discussion.

These proposals all involve onsite supportive services for the residents:

  • Converting two vacant hotels into approximately 100 Single Room Occupancy apartments. This will include supportive services through a navigation center to connect residents with social services.
  • Installing approximately 30 pallet-style "Tiny Homes" in collaboration with the neighboring Hope Faith Homeless Assistance Campus.
  • Providing funding to Amethyst Place for expansion that will provide approximately 30 permanent affordable housing units for single mothers and their children

These proposals contribute to the improved housing infrastructure and services achieved over the past several months, which range from immediate assistance to long-term plans and policy changes, including:

  • Allocating $12.5 million to the City's first-ever affordable housing trust fund that will incentivize the creation of affordable housing units and other housing options within larger otherwise market-rate multifamily development projects
  • Distributing $14 million in emergency rental assistance funds to over 3,000 households in Kansas City. On average, households received $4,400 to help pay back rent and utilities. This new dashboard tracks our progress:
  • With community input, developed a "Vision for Housing" that outlines the plan to create 10,000 new affordable housing units by 2027
  • Establishing a new Housing and Community Development Department with the city's first employees dedicated to homelessness prevention and support, tenant advocacy, and affordable housing creation and preservation
  • Converting abandoned houses into affordable housing by offering them for sale for $1 through the Land Bank
  • Building affordable housing on vacant lots owned by the City, Land Bank, or Homesteading Authority
  • Constructing affordable housing on city-owned property in creative ways, such as the plan to incorporate affordable housing units into the reconstruction of the Barney Allis Parking Plaza

During the cold snap at the beginning of this year, the city quickly opened the first of its kind warming center inside the city's convention center before pivoting rapidly to housing people in hotels. The warming center success stats (Jan-Mar 2021) include:

  • Serving more than 28,000 meals
  • Sheltered an average of 307 people per night
  • Kept 400 per night warm during February's coldest weather
  • More than 250 people connected with 15 partner agencies for social services
  • Hundreds of volunteers donated time and supplies

The programs included full social services onsite, helping hundreds of people while providing housing in hotel rooms (Apr - Jul 2021):

  • Nearly 120 people signed up for first-time benefits (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security)
  • Almost 350 people were connected to housing services providers- most of whom had never been associated with those programs
  • More than 50 people found employment
  • 220 people received medical care
  • Nearly 20 people received critical, potentially life-threatening medical treatment
  • And two babies were born safely, rather than on the streets or in the wood

Media can contact Maggie Green, Media Relations Manager, at 816-379-6562.