Progress already visible in struggling KCMO neighborhood - KCTV5

Progress already visible in struggling KCMO neighborhood

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For the last five years, at least 100 families have mourned the loss of a murdered loved one in Kansas City, and one local lawmaker said it's time for excuses to end and change to begin.

In the neighborhood on Chestnut Avenue just off 39th Street, struggle and progress are visible. On one side of the street is vacant home after vacant home. On another side of the street is the first home remodeled by a grassroots effort to change crime-ridden neighborhoods into a place free of violence.

"We have, like, 40 houses on this block. We have three residences," Mrs. E, a volunteer, said.

Mrs. E, as she prefers to be called, knows the story behind most of the homes boarded up and abandoned, some empty for years, near Chestnut and 39th.

"There was gunshots. There was violence, because with drug houses you have all those elements," Mrs. E said.

Missouri Rep. Brandon Ellington, D-22nd District,  is holding a community forum to find new solutions. He's working to bring businesses and homeowners back to the community.

"We got to get into the trenches and address the root causes of crime," Ellington said.

Mrs. E said in her neighborhood the gunshots have stopped thanks to a grassroots effort that included building a community garden.

"We are in a food desert right now. We don't have any stores," she said.

Volunteers are now remodeling a home to build a community resource center. They also want to tear down another vacant home to build a playground for kids in the neighborhood.

"There will be computers. There will be GED classes. There will be life skills classes," Mrs. E said.

"We are not addressing the causes of crime. Law enforcement has its proper place and duty because they are here to protect and serve, but they have nothing to do with the social and economic elements. If we don't address them, nothing's going to change," Ellington said.

For the last five years, at least 100 people are killed in Kansas City. The numbers break down to 126 homicides in 2008, 110 in 2009, 106 in 2010, 114 in 2011 and 108 in 2012.

Ellington is holding a community forum to focus on the socioeconomic factors. Anyone is invited to attend the forum on Saturday, Feb. 2 from 2-4 p.m. at the Robert J. Mohart Multipurpose Center, located at 3200 Wayne Ave. in Kansas City, MO.

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