© 2023 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

City Officials Banking On Vacant Homes To Help Neighborhoods

Sylvia Maria Gross
David Park is director of Kansas City's Department of Neighborhood and Community Services.

The foreclosure crisis hit some of Kansas City 's neighborhoods hard, particularly neighborhoods that were already struggling with crime, disinvestment and people moving out. As a result, in parts of east and south Kansas City, blocks are pockmarked with vacant homes. Last year, there were as many as 12,000 of them throughout the city.

City officials would like to be able to acquire and sell off these properties quickly. That could be possible with a couple of bills that are working their way through the Missouri statehouse this week.

Bill HB1659, and the Senate version SB795 (which is very similar), would allow Kansas City to create a "land bank."  That entity would allow the city to acquire unwanted properties, fix them up to sell, or demolish them, possibly to create community gardens or parks. 

David Park is Director of Kansas City's Department of Neighborhood and Community Services. He testified in Jefferson City on behalf of the land bank.  KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross caught up with him in his office to talk about the potential and potential pitfalls that this new tool would bring.

This story was produced for KC Currents, which airs Sundays at 5pm with a repeat Mondays at 8pm. To listen on your own schedule, subscribe to the KC Currents podcast.

Sylvia Maria Gross is storytelling editor at KCUR 89.3. Reach her on Twitter @pubradiosly.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and powerful storytelling.
Your donation helps make nonprofit journalism available for everyone.