Kansas City officials are continuing their push to support those facing houselessness. Their newest long-term solution is creating a village of tiny homes for the unhoused.
The village will include 140 beds in cabins provided by Pallet, a social purpose company that builds access to housing and employment. The village will have single- to family-size shelters and also have showers, laundry facilities and office space on site, where services such as health care, counseling and employment assistance will be provided.
City officials are still looking for possible locations for the village.
Earlier this year in Los Angeles, Pallet shelters set up two similar villages consisting of 200-plus 64-square-foot tiny homes. Each village has on-site caseworkers who help connect residents to jobs and other helpful resources like mental health services and housing navigation.
“Our goal is to provide a large amount of emergency transitional housing to make sure we have safe, respectable, and climate-controlled living areas, particularly for those currently living in one of the 170 tent encampments across the city,” said Brian Platt, city manager. “This is one of several solutions we are exploring to create housing options that meet the diverse needs of our unhoused community.”
Platt also said the village is a more permanent model and would be more cost-effective than continuing to house the homeless in hotels.
Merging KC, a non-profit that focuses on ending homelessness and restoring green space in Kansas City, will oversee construction of the transitional housing village and will help coordinate the onsite services.
Leaders from the KC Homeless Union, an recently organized group of houseless people in Kansas City, say the new tiny home initiative is a step in the right direction.
Over the past year, the city has invested more than $8 million into emergency shelter, rent and utility assistance and other services to those at risk of homelessness, yet over the past year, many of the unhoused community expressed they did not feel heard nor supported.
In January, the KC Homeless Union set up an occupation on the city hall lawn as a form of protest to demand a seat at the table, homes, jobs and water. After two months of occupying city hall, last month the KC Homeless Union and Mayor Quinton Lucas agreed to collaborate on projects to support the houseless.
After the agreement was reached, as part of a 90-day program, the city moved more than 300 houseless people to hotel rooms, including those occupying city hall. The City is also providing them with needed wrap-around services.
As an additional way to provide services, the Kansas City Land Bank will select community non-profit agencies to receive vacant houses for $1, to renovate for the unhoused.
The city council also created an Unhoused Task Force that includes members of the unhoused community. The Task Force will allow councilmembers to hear the concerns of the houseless and allow them to help guide policy decisions.
“The Kansas City Homeless Union recognizes that these policies alone will not end homelessness in Kansas City and plans to continue organizing for an end to homelessness, and for safe, accessible, truly affordable homes for all in Kansas City,” the KC Homeless Union said in a statement.
If you are at-risk of homelessness, go to www.kcmo.gov/renthelp. Kansas City Homeless Union can be reached on Facebook.com/kchomelessunion.