Heart Village Tenants Disrupt County Meeting, Demand Public Hearing

Brynn Fitzsimmons

8/23/2021- Kansas City, Missouri

Heart Village resident speaks at the Jackson County Land Use legislative meeting on August 23.

Photo by Andrei Stoica

Tenants of the Heart Village Mobile Home Park, which was recently acquired by Jackson County, Missouri for the purposes of building a new detention center on the property, appeared at a Jackson County Legislative Meeting on Monday, August 23, demanding a public hearing on the issue. They said county processes thus far had ignored their needs and voices.

The public hearing is now slated for Friday, August 27 at noon in the KC Legislative Assembly Area, Jackson County Courthouse, Kansas City, Missouri. While tenants demanded a hearing at the meeting Monday, legislators cited the regulation that they post the hearing.

Concerns About Displacement, Compensation

Initially, county legislators at Monday’s meeting were prepared to vote on the release funds for the purposes of beginning to move tenants, in collaboration with the Community Service League (CSL). Following a presentation from JCDC Partners LLC on Owner’s Representative Services, tenants of Heart Village Mobile Home Park pushed back on the county going ahead with the current plans. Audience members cited a number of concerns, including lack of communication, the continuation of eviction proceedings and rent payments even after Jackson County acquired the property and concerns about insufficient levels of planned compensation for relocation expenses.

Urban Schaefer, for example, identified himself as a disabled veteran of the Marine Corps. He said he relies on oxygen as well as a ramp—needs he fears will not be met with new housing. “My neighbor...built me a ramp (and) didn't charge me a thing,” he explained of his current home at the mobile home park. “Now how…much more is that gonna happen, to build a ramp like would I need?”

Legislators explained residents would receive tailored relocation services. And, following public disruption, however, legislators allowed for a limited number of public comments like Schaefer’s and raised other questions about the process surrounding the new jail.

Legislators ultimately raised the current budget for relocation expenses and directed CSL to report back on additional fund needs, following meetings with residents of the mobile home park. They also agreed to hold a public hearing on the issue, currently scheduled for Friday, August 27 at noon in the KC Legislative Assembly Area, Jackson County Courthouse, Kansas City, Missouri.

1st District representative Jalen Anderson expressed concerns about fair compensation and adequate reporting processes to the board. County Legislative Chairman Dan Tarwater and County Administrator Troy Schulte also told audience members that the County would fully compensate residents for their homes, including purchasing new trailers for those whose homes cannot be moved.

Heart Village Tenants Issue Demands

The tenants issued the following statement in a press release made available via KC Tenants:

“The people showed up and shut it down today. The County wanted to go in a certain direction, without our voices. We refused to be silenced. We are happy to win several of our demands, but we’re not done fighting. Make no mistake: We won’t retreat until each and every one of us is fully and properly compensated for our homes. We won’t stop organizing until each of these commitments is in writing and delivered to us.”

Published on: 8/24/2021