On Sunday night, another man was shot inside an apartment building. The Building, part of the Kenwood Apartments, is one of several Section 8 Housing units along a 10 block stretch of Armour Boulevard between Gillham and Troost (the Kenwood is officiall on Locust, but borders Armour).
And this isn't the first shooting to happen in this stretch of apartment units this year.
Thus far, no fewer than 5 people have been killed along this stretch of Armour Boulevard -- with at least three of the victims actually being found inside the buildings - -including this incident in March, and a 7 month old girl killed in September -- not to mention this incident in September.
In all of the cases where the victim was found inside buildings, all occurred inside of apartments that were designated for project-based Section 8 housing.This also isn't the first incident that has occurred inside the Kenwood Apartments -- over Labor Day weekend, 2008, Gary McElroy was shot dead on the front steps leading into these apartments.
The purpose of project-based Section 8 is to provide safe, affordable housing for people who, because of low incomes, cannot afford it. However, it doesn't take much of reading the crime reports to realize that these project-based apartments are NOT safe for their tenants -- or for the surrounding neighborhoods.
Who's responsibility it is to solve the poblem remains somewhat elusive. There are a lot of people who could accept responsibility, but none who seem overly willing to. The buildings are all owned by out-of-town corporations. Most are managed by one of two major management companies. All are following Housing and Urban Development guidelines (although even HUD even acknowledges that project-based Section 8 housing -- where all units in a given building are designated for low-income housing and creating in the early 1970s, is not preferred to tenant based programs that allow tenants to live anywhere they want with assistance provided)*. And the city of Kansas City also needs to accept responsibility for its lack of a detailed housing plan that will provide for removing project-based section 8, and replacing it with tenant based programs.
* From the HUD website:
Most housing professionals agree that concentrating assisted-housing for low- and very low-income Americans in dense, urban areas is not an effective use of scarce affordable housing resources. Over the past decade, professionals in the affordable housing industry have turned increasingly to mixed-income housing as an alternative to traditional assisted-housing initiatives. Mixed-income housing is an attractive option because, in addition to creating housing units for occupancy by low-income households, it also contributes to the diversity and stability of American communities.
And while everyone seems more than willing to deny there is a problem (or at least, that it is THEIR problem), people are being found dead in these apartments and residents are living in fear and prisoners in their own home.
What makes this additionally troubling is that the problem is completely fixable -- if all of the vested parties would admit their is a problem and move forward, quickly , with a plan. This isn't a complicated social problem -- it is actually a problem created, in part, to bad housing policy that has ignored the opinion of experts in the field of public housing and concentrated low-income housing in these buildings.
It's time the city and all vested parties step up to do so. We cannot continue to ignore this problem any more.
For more reading:
Update: More from KCTV5 on the story -- I wish they had actually tried to find one of the residents of the buildings to talk too so it wasn't just a Hyde Park thing, but they've got the story.