Blight | KCUR

Blight

Segment 1: Former mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, can be remembered for more than brick-and-mortar accomplishments

With his successor officially sworn in as mayor, Sly James has ended his eight years  at City Hall. His legacy goes beyond a convention hotel, a single-terminal airport and the streetcar. A panel of non-profit representatives spotlighted James' fights for a higher minimum wage, women's equality and literacy in young children. 

Segment 1: With only three weeks left in the regular legislative session there are still major issues to be addressed.

From asking Missourians to vote again on the Clean Missouri intitiative to redefining blight in order to curtail the use of TIF to a strict abortion bill, state lawmakers have their hands full for the rest of the session. A review of these and other major issues offered insight into the bills connected with each.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Initiative to improve neighborhoods east of Troost Avenue calls for $13 million but fails to identify a source for the needed funds.

Ambitious in its scope, an ordinance approved by the Kansas City Council looks to remediate blight, help with home improvement and economic development, and combat gentrification in the eastern parts of the city. We heard what implementing the plan could mean for residents, and where the money could be found to make it happen.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Emergency preparedness is in the national consciousness in a big way. Today, the Smart Money Experts make a special trip to the studio to discuss preparing your family's finances for the wide-ranging effects of a natural disaster. Then, Kansas City voters in April approved a one-eighth-cent sales tax increase aimed at developing the long-neglected east side of town.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Jean Peters Baker's work doesn't end when she steps out of the Jackson County Courthouse. In fact, the county's top prosecutor recently hosted a cleanup event on the 2300 block of Denver Avenue in Kansas City to reduce blight and fight crime. She speaks about that, and about the work of Mayor Sly James' Citizens Task Force on Violence. Then, the only business school professor ever named a MacArthur Fellow tells us why he thinks fixing income inequality in America requires increasing the number of college graduates.

Better Block Foundation

The push for safe spaces and trigger warnings is leading many educators to more carefully curate their syllabi. The issue inspired creativity in a Kansas City playwright and the two local actors performing in his new project.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

In many ways, Kansas City, Kansas, is a tale of two cities: growing wealth and optimism out west, dilapidation and empty houses in the east. But Mark Holland, city mayor and CEO of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County, holds out hope.

"We've never had more capital investment, we've never had more job growth, we've never been on a higher upswing in terms of morale in our community," he says.

At his State of the Government Address on Feb. 28, Holland laid out his plans to keep that momentum going.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Mark Holland speaks with host Steve Kraske about the State of the Government Address he presented on February 28, noting the progress made in Wyandotte County, and what more needs to be done. Also, our Political Pundits examine President Trump's first address to a joint session of Congress.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

A million-dollar housing project in Kansas City is being built to achieve two things: get homeless veterans permanent housing and restore blighted, abandoned properties in the urban core. 

Neighborhoods United, an area non-profit, is teaming up with the Kansas City, Missouri, branch of the NAACP and the Black Economic Union to restore empty properties in blighted neighborhoods and convert them into energy-efficient duplexes for veterans and people with disabilities. 

The American Housing Act of 1949 reshaped Kansas City in enduring ways, but was it for the best? Local historian Michael Wells, who works in the library's special collections department, examines how the law changed the metro's infrastructure and how its effects are felt today.

InterContinental Kansas City At The Plaza

The InterContinental — the iconic hotel on the corner of the Country Club plaza — wants to be designated as blighted. 

The hotel went before a Kansas City Council committee Wednesday to ask for the designation so it can establish a community improvement district, which would allow the hotel to create 1 percent a sales tax to help pay for renovations.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

If you just want to see the video, scroll down

It's makes for dramatic pictures but more importantly, it's improving the neighborhood.

Kansas City — in partnership with donated services from Kissick Construction and Industrial Wrecking — started tearing down blighted homes Tuesday morning in the 2000 block of Chelsea Ave. It's the second phase of a $10 million dollar program. 

Mayor Sly James says the city will start with 23 homes the  city owns in it's Land Bank.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Can data help Kansas City, Kansas, reverse decades of urban decay?

Mayor Mark Holland thinks so.

It’s economics 101, the mayor says: property values plummet when there are more houses than people. That’s what happened when white families started to leave Kansas City, Kansas, in the 1960s. 

“Thirty-thousand fewer people is about 10,000 empty homes,” Holland says, “which has become about 6,000 vacant lots.”

More minorities moved in but not fast enough to make up for the population loss. Today, fewer than 150,000 people live in Kansas City, Kansas.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

We've been hearing a lot about Kansas City's program to demolish or sell off dilapidated homes. Around 800 properties are on the "dangerous buildings" list and thousands more are vacant or abandoned.

The large amount of blighted homes in Kansas City has a lot to do with the housing crisis, and a lingering question is whether outside investors have been part of the problem or part of the solution.

A local contractor seeking local buyer