Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Resolution for Homelessness Commission to come before City Council committee


A resolution to form a homelessness commission will come before the Public Safety and Neighborhoods Committee at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

The resolution is an outgrowth of a June 26 conference called From This Day Forward: Ending Homelessness in Kansas City, sponsored by the Kansas City Missouri Police Department.

The resolution proposes a 30+-member task force composed of seven City Council members, Police Chief Jim Corwin, civic leaders and legal and social service experts who work with the homeless. The commission’s task will be to draft a 10-year plan to end homelessness, much like other cities have done. If the commission is approved by the full City Council, the plan should be completed by September 2010.

“The commission will study successful programs on homelessness nationwide and will examine existing services in Kansas City to make policy recommendations to city and county governments in this region,” said Dr. George Harris, who served as a co-chair of an earlier homelessness task force.

Since 2007, local United Way 211 calls indicate a 45-percent increase in the need for homelessness prevention services in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Chief Corwin began addressing the issue by facilitating a task force on homelessness beginning in 2007. The task force was composed of law enforcement and leaders of the judiciary, hospitals and homeless shelters.

“The task force was to encourage the development of improved alternative services to people on the streets who are guilty of no crime except poverty,” Dr. Harris said.

That task force planned the June 26 conference and concluded a formal Commission on Homelessness with political support would best be able to recommend policy changes with the goal of eliminating homelessness. That is what is being proposed in Wednesday’s Public Safety and Neighborhoods Committee meeting Wednesday. If approved by the Committee, the creation of a Homelessness Commission would later go up for a vote before the full City Council.

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