Today, CrimeSceneKC noted yet another death along Armour Blvd -- this one involving a 7 month old child who's death is being treated as a homicide.
That makes 2 murders in three days along a short stretch of the Boulevard. This death, itself, happened in one of the low-income housing units along Armour.
Last night, the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association hosted a meeting to discuss the increase in crime -- particularly violent crime -- that has occurred in the neighborhood after the two apartment buildings were recently renewed for another 25 years of project-based Section 8 housing.
The meeting had about 250 attendees -- not just from the Hyde Park Neighborhood - -but also surrounding neighborhoods like Squire Park, Center City and Manheim -- as well as many residents of the low-income housing that is in question -- who are all being affected by the increase in crime in the area.
In spite of what other are making it out to be, the dislike of violent crime extends beyond race and income.
Many numbers were shared about the increase in crime in the area -- including a 400% increase in crime at one intersection over the same time period a year ago. The crime/911 calls seem to be centered around a handful of low-income housing buildings -- all owned by out-of-state companies -- that make up disproportionate share of the crimes in the area -- including 4 murders so far this year in the immediate vacinity of these buildings after having no murders in the neighborhood in all of last year when the buildings were mostly empty.
Members of the police force were there -- and I must say, the police spend a lot of time at these few buildings -- including having a police car and the paddy-wagon outside of the building as I left the association meeting last night. But as one officer wisely said, you can't solve social issues by using a police force.
And the problem continues to be around the social issue of a) a large number of poor people in the KCMO area b) a very large concentration of the poor in certain areas of town and c) the proven statistical information that large concentrations of poor people in certain areas lead to a rise in crime.
However, it appears as if the city of Kansas City is very much to blame for HUD violating its own recommendations when it comes to low-income housing. HUD's own studies indicate that they prefer tenent-based Section 8 housing programs (where qualified residents get to choose where they live and get government assistence) to project-based Section 8 (where entire buildings or neighborhoods are dedicated to low-income housing) because it is better for the residents and for the neighborhoods.
So why did HUD recently renew 300 units of Section 8 along this stretch of Armour Blvd so that now, 45% of the apartments units along this stretch of Armour are designated as Section 8, and 19 of the city's 92 project-based Section 8 buildings are in the 64109 area code?
Because apparently Kansas City has no comprehensive housing plan in place for undoing the segregated low-income housing of the 70s and going to more modern, effect approaches to low-income housing.
While dealing with the problem by using police, city prosecutors, neighborhood watch groups and city codes officials is a good short-term solution to clean up the area -- and great recommendations were brought up at the meeting last night -- the reality is that without the city having some type of comprehensive housing plan, the problem will continue to persist.
And it is ending these problems permanently that we should insist city officials quickly and comprehensively create a housing plan for the city -- not just for the folks who live along Armour Blvd, but for the folks throughout the city that live in and around the 92 project-based Section 8 buildings that are causing crime problems throughout the metro.
It's time for the city to step up to the plate -- and not continue to make this not just a problem for the neighborhoods, for the low-income and for the police.