Kansas City budget to include rehab of abandoned homes - KCTV5

Kansas City budget to include rehab of abandoned homes

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This year's $1.4 billion Kansas City budget has a portion of it set aside for revitalizing abandoned homes, a need in many neighborhoods across the city. This year's $1.4 billion Kansas City budget has a portion of it set aside for revitalizing abandoned homes, a need in many neighborhoods across the city.
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

This year's $1.4 billion Kansas City budget has a portion of it set aside for revitalizing abandoned homes, a need in many neighborhoods across the city.

Some of the abandoned homes might look like they are beyond all repair, but some organizations can help get them fixed up, and a plan is in place for doing it.

Most passers-by see only decayed porches, broken windows and crumbling foundations, but Greg Lombardi sees potential.

"We identify lynchpin properties, the ones that are really going to make the most difference, and you turn it into a tax-paying, high-quality occupied property," Lombardi said.

Lombardi works for Legal Action of Western Missouri.  Part of his organization's work is to acquire abandoned and dilapidated properties, then they make sure the houses get fixed up.

"The city's only true choice of what to do with abandoned properties, other than having us come in and fix them up, is to demolish the properties," Lombardi said.

It costs legal aid less than $2,500 to acquire most lots, then they donate the property to a nonprofit that fixes them.  The organization will receive nearly $400,000 from next year's budget, but Lombardi says that is not enough to tackle the city's nearly 7,000 empty houses.

"We're only handling about 80 abandoned properties a year. So we're barely touching 1 percent of the problem," he said.

Lombardi said abandoned homes contribute to violence, drug use and other crime.  He says their contribution could actually be costing the city money already.

"If you live down the street from an abandoned house, you live in constant fear of crime. And whatever money you put into your own house, you won't be able to get anything out of it," Lombardi said.

Lombardi said Kansas City's approach to vacant homes is one of the best in the country and that the city is underutilizing one of its most effective programs.

"We're one of the leading cities in the country in dealing with abandoned properties. It's a gigantic problem for the city," he said.

When the city demolishes houses instead of turning them over to a nonprofit, it costs between $8,000 and $10,000 to tear it down.

The city council will pass the final budget in March.

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