Our Divided City: Update Editor’s Note: On February 22, 2016, Mayor Sly James responded in his blog to the claim that his administration is not doing enough in the black community east of Troost Avenue.
The hour-long documentary Our Divided City
first aired on KCPT on January 29. Since its release, there have been a spate of announcements from City Hall regarding some of the issues flagged in the film. In the video above, we revisited some of these issues as well as some of the voices from the film to examine the impact of the documentary.
On February 11, Mayor Sly James and City Manager Troy Shulte announced that the draft 2016-17 budget places the removal of blight as its No. 1 priority. See the details in the press release here
, but its main message is that the city is now proposing a $10 million bond issue to remove the 800 or so dangerous buildings on its books over the next two years.
City Hall announced that around 135 of the dangerous buildings could be bought for a single dollar each
. This bold move may help KCPD and the local communities tackle the violent crime hotspots, where, in some instances, empty buildings are used for criminal activities. And the “Dollar Home Sale” acknowledges that there’s the need to repopulate the blocks east of Troost.
The submitted budget also mentions additional funding for code enforcement. The film mentioned that the 40 code enforcement officers for KCMO had around 14,000 properties on their books at the start of the year. More officers will mean they’ll have more time to chase the owners of companies that are failing to maintain their properties.
On February 18, the mayor made another interesting announcement regarding the “Shared Success Fund
.” Incentives, and where they’re being offered, are a hot topic at the moment in Kansas City, Missouri. The initiative aims to cool things down a little and reassure people that City Hall wants to incentivise development in the poorer parts of town.
So, there are lots of encouraging announcements for one of our communities most in need, but it remains to be seen what will be in the final budget; the discussion is ongoing.— Michael Price, an independent filmmaker, produced “Our Divided City” and “Lost Minds” for KCPT.