By Charles Carney
Several members of PeaceWorks-KC joined an ad hoc coalition to stop the abrupt closure of a cold-weather shelter for unhoused persons in the Kansas City, KS, area recently. The newly elected mayor of the Unified Government, Tyrone Garner, to the surprise of many activists who had canvassed for him, held a special session with commissioners on the morning of Dec. 29 to pull the plug on the shelter.
Especially dismayed by the fact that the mayor intended to close the shelter just hours before a brutal winter storm, PeaceWorks board members Ann Suellentrop and myself joined 15 others in front of the KCK City Hall at noon on Dec. 29. Demonstrators chanted slogans, carried signs, and spoke truth to power. Yasmin Bruno-Valdez, 20, a young immigrants’ rights organizer, led the group inside the mayor’s office where demonstrators further spoke their mind. Robert, a formerly homeless man who did not wish to disclose his last name, expressed with great sadness that he had already lost one friend to the bitter cold. Robin, a currently homeless woman, said, “Every single commissioner ought to spend a night outside in the cold, and then we’d see how they vote!”
Nehemiah Rosell, who is the PeaceWorks information technology expert and a current homeless outreach social worker, along with myself and PeaceWorks member Heidi Holliday, testified before the commissioners. Alluding to the “homes not bombs” theme of my long peace walk this summer, I was quoted in the Dec. 31 printed edition of The Kansas City Star as saying: “This is an affordable housing problem and a problem of a lack of political will.”
The Unified Government Board of Commissioners voted unanimously 9-0 against the mayor’s wishes … and to keep the shelter open. The Unified Government covers KCK and Wyandotte County. The link to the online article in The Kansas City Star is at https://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article256941992.html.
©2022, Charles Carney, Ann Suellentrop, Nehemiah Rosell, Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 International License