Due to the systematic racism that keeps minority people poor, uneducated, and in a constant state of exhaustion, the area east of Troost is crime ridden. These reports show how the crimes map out.
The astounding number of vacant lots and houses doesn’t help either; these places become spots where crime can grow and thrive, such as drug usage and sex work. Here is a movie that shows how difficult it is to get the city to keep up the appearance of the foreclosed and city owned empty houses. The movie also shows how people are fighting the negative stereotypes of the east side of Troost and trying to turn their neighborhood back into a thriving community. The Ivanhoe community is an example of a community that is incredible involved with their community and community members and are successfully working towards a better future for everyone.
Poverty is a cycle. If the neighborhood is bad, people who can afford it move out, the tax intake decreases, less and less money is collected and put back into the district, the public amenities and spaces start breaking, the place becomes more dangerous, nothing can be fixed because there is no money to be given or made since all the businesses are in the west of Troost, there is not enough around here, and they won’t hire non-white applicants, the neighborhood gets worse, people move if they can afford to……
For instance this article talks about how there is an increase in how many Black people are moving to the suburbs. Meanwhile, white people are increasingly moving into the inner city.
“Black residents who have the means to leave Kansas City are looking for “better jobs, better schools and safer environments,” he said. In addition, the quality of housing has “deteriorated substantially” in parts of the urban core, Eaton pointed out, while home ownership has fallen and the number of renters has soared.”
The previous paragraph illustrates why people are moving and how its because the previous neighborhoods they lived in are indeed dangerous.
But usually people have to stay in the blighted area and work together with the community for change if change is going to happen. And it is! There are many projects underway to try and get the east of Troost revitalized, NOT gentrified, into a thriving community. There was a lot of talk behind a project initiative to help the Troost area attract more businesses, and the people working on the project even went so far as to develop an aesthetics manual for the hypothetical shops. Hopefully, it gets pushed through!
There is Lots of Love, developed in a KCAI classroom and carried on by Sean Starowitz. This project is trying to get empty lots turned into more sociable and safer environments. Many people have done this on their own, such as Charles Brown. Here’s a more in depth conversation about the project from KCUR.
Another option would be to take more of an active role in local government and local going-ons. TIF and other subsidies were put in place to entice people to build in Kansas City when Kansas City was still young and small. But, now the subsidies are being abused and taken advantaged of by wealthy companies and the tax payer being forced to pay that company’s taxes for 25 years. Not only is this unfair to hard working people but it is also something that is unevenly given to different parts of the city.
Additionally, the schools districts should be worked on to reallocate the money and get the old schools fixed up or to reopen the closed down schools across the city. Not only would it get an empty building full with learning children again, but it would increase property prices and allow the children to receive an education, an education that can only get better and better when the school district gets more and more money. Right now some schools are really struggling to get the kids an appropriate education fit to move them forward in the ever-changing future. This chart is to show two schools in the Kansas City area, not charter schools but neighborhood schools.
Furthermore, the children that grow up in the neighborhoods could come back from college and try to make their childhood home a more thriving community, but sometimes the incentives just aren’t there. It would be too hard trying to make a living in a neighborhood and area that just isn’t fitted to make living from. But, college students could potentially have the time and drive to lend a hand during their years at their school and could possibly even stay in the city after graduation to try and get the city into a better shape than before.
Kansas City is unique in that the population is nearly half white (non-hispanic) and half minority (people of color). Since KC is still relatively young and fresh, many things are liable to change here if people put their mind to it, but they could change it for the better. There are people here who have a vision and skills to carry it out, not to mention many artists how can lend a helping hand or two.
In other words, if it’s possible here, it can happen anywhere! So if the city and its people can get an old issue, made by systematic racism, fixed, then any other similarly determined city can follow Kansas City’s lead. But, KC has to first address their problem and overcome it!