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Kansas City business owners want more action from the city to address homelessness

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File photo by Carlos Moreno
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KCUR 89.3
Unhoused people staying in Westport board a bus to be driven to Penn Valley Park.

Two Kansas City bar owners say homeless individuals aren't getting the help they need from the city and it's affecting their business.

Kansas City has announced a strategic plan to end homelessness in the city within five years, but Matt Alexiou, co-owner of Southside Bar and Grill, says the plan is only surface deep.

Since November, Alexiou said, he has been communicating with city council members, the city manager, the mayor and homelessness prevention coordinator about how unhoused people are affecting his business and community.

"It's been a year, they have not gotten one person off the street because they're not down there trying to," Alexiou said of city officials.

Becky Hamrick, owner of Bobby Baker's Lounge, said during the winter months homeless people barricade themselves in the restroom, threaten her employees and leave trash.

"We feel for them," Hamrick said. "You know, we have to protect our customers and I have to protect my employees, you know, and my business."

The business owners joined Up To Date to discuss why they're frustrated with their elected officials' response to Kansas City's homelessness problem.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
Elizabeth Ruiz is a freelance producer for KCUR’s Up To Date. Contact her at elizabeth@kcur.org or on Twitter at @er_bentley_ruiz
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