The lobbying by The Downtown Council to have the City and County work together to fund an innovative social services approach to homeless camping is laudable, from a bird’s eye view. Zoom in and their specific attempt to have it located on the site of the former Chouteau Courts without engaging with neighbors who live, work, and commute in Northeast is at best innocent ignorance and more likely blatant disregard. Google Maps is a cold consultant on social impacts.
Downtown has come a long way in the 15 years I have lived in Northeast. I moved to Northeast because of its character, hedging on the future appreciation of property values, and proximity to downtown. I have spent more of my “fun money” downtown than I have in Northeast over those 15 years. The continued rise of community and commerce in downtown undoubtedly makes for a stronger Northeast; after all, we are next door neighbors.
Northeast has a rich history of services to the vulnerable. Don Bosco, Mattie Rhodes [and] Judge Shangler have all made lasting impacts on countless individuals. More recently, Leslie Caplan, Bobbi Jo Reed, Dan Smith [and] Jordan Schiele are just a few of the amazing examples of Northeast members providing services to those in need. But healthy communities take more than heart. Expendable incomes, varied housing stock, core shopping centers, engaging schools, low crime, recreational activities, and diverse job opportunities all have a direct impact on quality of life for residents and workers. Northeast has struggled but slowly climbed in all of these metrics over decades and is due to the people who make up the community and volunteer their time. Michael Bushnell, Kristin Johnson [and] Scott Wagner are a few examples of those who have made meaningful improvements to my personal quality of life through their volunteer efforts working on these important categories that impact “community.”
There are a real social, economic, and quality of life consequences to the flippant concentration of additional poverty in an area slowly and meaningfully progressing through it. The Downtown Council has immediate short-term and long-term goals that have probably never considered their immediate neighbors to their north and east. I say that with some certainty as a past board member of the Scarritt Renaissance Neighborhood Association, Cliff Drive Corridor Management Community, Kansas City Museum Advisory Board, as well as multiple ad hoc civic committees.
The Paseo Gateway is a major entrance for the Northeast community and its land use will have a direct impact on our ongoing quality of life and economic progress. I would guess of all I have said, the leadership at the Downtown Council will most agree with this statement and is a major factor in their decision-making to funnel the poverty they find on their doorsteps to the north and east rather than the south or the west, or help them in the downtown loop.
Downtown Council – we might have insight for you. Our best social services in Northeast are in and a part of the community.
Downtown Council – come have a beer on our porch with us. Let’s learn from each other and work in harmony, not in friction. Hopefully, we might even become friends.
After all, we are next door neighbors.