'Love Thy Neighbor' program aims to help disadvantage Kansas Cit - KCTV5

'Love Thy Neighbor' program aims to help disadvantage Kansas City residents

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Kansas City is taking a novel approach to codes violations, using church volunteers to fix up homes owned by the elderly or disabled who simply can't make the improvements themselves.

The pilot program was initiated after a councilwoman heard about low-income elderly folks with arrest warrants over housing code violations they simply didn’t have the means to fix.

The first effort of the 'Love Thy Neighbor" program was in October at the home of an elderly woman in southeast Kansas City. 

Volunteers from two area churches did painting and minor repairs to bring her home up to code.

Carpentry work like railings came from apprentices with the carpenters’ union volunteering their time. She told KCTV5 this week why it gave her a warm feeling.

“You know how people treat you sometimes," said Jessie Hayden. "Cold. But everybody was so friendly and nice. It made me feel really good.”

The point of the program was to actually fix the problem rather than tie up housing court with homeowners who were not able to address the violations – with or without the threat of arrest.

“The code violations are just one of many problems that these homeowners have. Oftentimes when you engage them you find a number of different layers of issues that they have to address," said councilwoman Alissia Canady. "We have brought in legal aid to support some of these families when we found out some of the challenges they were dealing with.”

Last month, volunteers from a *different church worked on the *Ruskin-area home of a single-mother with a terminal illness.

By then, Canady was able to get a one-time funding source through the sale of a city property - to pay for skilled labor like tree removal and roofing.

But the bulk of the labor is meant to be from volunteers.

They have identified 25 homes to address and are looking for more church and charitable groups willing to dedicate time to get them taken care of.

If you would like to have your organization provide volunteer labor, contact the Department of Neighborhoods and Housing at 816-513-3200 and ask for Shawn Kirkwood, the Housing Court Coordinator. 

You can also call the office of Councilwoman Canady at 816-513-6521.

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