By LESLIE COLLINS
January 30, 2013
Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce covered a wealth of information during its Jan. 22 Chamber luncheon. Topics ranged from the Facade Improvement Loan Program to illegal homeless camps to the Beads, Beans and Beers fundraiser.
Below are the highlights:
•Facade Improvement Loan Program - Administered by the KCMO CDE (Community Development Entity), the Facade Improvement Loan Program is geared toward the Independence Avenue, Truman Road and Prospect corridors. The goal is to be a catalyst for investment in low income communities, said program manager Christine Kahm. Property owners can use the facade loan to improve the exterior of their buildings by adding energy efficient windows and lighting, tuckpointing, painting, awnings, among other projects. All improvements must adhere to the historical character of the neighborhood. Improving the exterior of a business could mean more foot traffic, and more foot traffic means more eyes and ears on the street to deter crime, Kahm said. When one person invests in his or her property, others tend to follow suit, she said. Each loan has up to a five-year term at a fixed 5 percent interest rate. The maximum loan amount is $50,000. For more information, visit http://www.kcmocde.org/fil.html or contact Christine Kahm at email@example.com or (816) 216-1851.
•Free Tax Services in Northeast – Shatomi Luster with the University of Missouri Extension Office announced that Kansas City residents, who earn less than $50,000 annually, are eligible to receive free tax preparation services. AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) is assisting with the program. See story on front page.
•Illegal Transient Camps – During the luncheon alone, Central Patrol Community Interaction Office James Schriever said he received at least 15 emails regarding the transient camps in Kessler Park near I-435 and The Paseo. The Kansas City Police Department partnered with the city to remove the illegal homeless camps on Jan. 18. The city estimates more than 150 people were living in the wooded area. Prior to evacuating the camps, KCPD gave two-weeks notice to those living at the camps, Schriever said. During the eradication of the camps, KCPD discovered several portable meth labs and synthetic marijuana. Also discovered were stolen metal from area work sites, catalytic converter cases and heat shields, and cut utilities. KCPD will continue to enforce city ordinances until there is compliance, he said. A number of citizens have told the police department that they don’t agree with removing the camps, stating that many of the homeless lost their jobs and homes as a result of the economic downturn. “They use that word ‘homeless’ very loosely,” Schriever said. “They’re seeing it as suffering the economic downturn.” However, most of the individuals at the homeless camp don’t fit that description, he said. Most are transient and unwilling to accept social services and work with the neighborhood, he said. “We’re giving them every opportunity to seek social services,” Schriever said. “We want to give them every opportunity to better themselves.” KCPD will continue to work with the neighborhoods to resolve the problem, he said.
•CPTED Partnership - Westside Housing has partnered with KCPD to help low income residents make improvements to their home dictated by Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). Each home can receive up to $500 to implement necessary upgrades, said East Patrol Community Interaction Officer Jason Cooley. Cooley will conduct the CPTED survey and send his recommendations to the home owner and Westside Housing. Westside Housing will provide funding to make the improvements, like installing better locks and lighting, landscaping to deter crime, among others.