Jeff Humfeld and Reverend Ester Holzendorf discuss the Kansas City Homeless Union and the Hope For The Homeless Project with Radio Active Magazine regular Spencer Graves. Rev. Holzendorf is a a retired social worker, Executive Director of the Chestnut Resource Center and a leader of this coalition. Humfeld is Chair of the Board of Consolidated Social Work Services.
The coalition is made up of community members advocating in support of those who are homeless. It focused on creating housing and providing permanency through wrap around supportive services in Kansas City.
The Homeless Union includes members of the houseless community. They describe several meetings with the Mayor of Kansas City, Mo., Quinton Lucas, City Manager, Brian Platt, and the Greater Kansas City Coalition to End Homelessness. They have also participated in listening sessions with the U.S. Interagency Council to End Homelessness, with members of community organizations and members of the houseless community. They say that the Mayor and the City Manager have made multiple promises to the houseless community that have thus far not been kept. Several deaths have occurred as a direct result of members of the houseless community being left out in the cold without adequate provisions. Serious humanitarian issues are not being addressed.
The American Rescue Plan’s allocation to Kansas City Missouri is $194,776,376.00. President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act on March 11, 2021. Many of the law’s provisions can be used to help people who are currently or at risk of experiencing homelessness. Millions of dollars were placed in a housing trust fund account, yet to date there are countless numbers of people outside in the heat every day. Due to the many sweeps done by the city, the homeless Union camps were destroyed, and people have been forced to flee to areas that are isolated.
“Meetings and talks have only led to more broken promises, so we feel we have no choice but to go public with our issues and demands. This last winter has been the third that they have been meeting and talking”, according to Rev. Holzendorf. The Homeless Union demands an ordinance that focuses on ending the houseless problem. They want professional wrap around support services that lead to permanency, including the following:
- A seat at the table where decisions are being made about the homeless community.
The homes should be immediately available to provide for shelter from the extreme weather, in the heat and cold.
KC Homeless Union and Hope For The Homeless Project cite reports indicating a a pattern of behavior in Kansas City that document how millions of dollars have not been used for intended purposes. They want these practices thoroughly investigated.