When you’re homeless, it’s not easy to keep your belongings from being stolen, lost or thrown away by city cleaning crews or police sweeps. Holding onto your possessions can be a daily struggle.
Last week, as part of its Extreme Weather Activation Plan, the city announced a new initiative officials hope will help Kansas City’s unhoused residents protect their possessions.
City officials announced they will be providing 70 personal storage carts for the unhoused to use for their personal items and that they have partnered with the Downtown Council to provide a secure facility to store the carts. Their thought is more unhoused people will seek shelter during extreme weather if they know their personal belongings will be protected.
The city named the carts, which are essentially trash cans on wheels, “Heart Carts.” However, Heart Carts weren’t met with a “heartfelt” response by the community.
KC Tenants, a tenant and housing rights organization was vocal on Twitter calling on community members to organize to do something about it.
“You can’t make this s%?t up: In 2022, as our unhoused neighbors die on the streets and under bridges, instead of committing to #HouseThePeople, @KCMO rebranded trashcans as ‘heart carts,”’ tweeted KC Tenants in response.
Others questioned why trash cans, and how it sends the message that their belongings are trash and that it’s dehumanizing.
City Manager Brian Platt responded that the trash cans are low cost, durable, easy to get, and have ease of mobility. Platt also tweeted that the carts were requested by homeless camp residents.
While some may not like the concept, 5th District City Councilwoman Ryana Parks-Shaw, who chairs the Mayor’s Houseless Task Force, said, “We have been listening to the community, and seeking innovative ways to help those in need. The Heart Cart symbolizes our concern, while solving a problem in a very practical way.”
Still, others tweeted that they’d rather see the city build more shelters, restore abandoned homes and focus on providing mental health resources to the unhoused.