A Million Square Feet
Everyone deserves a home, and congregate shelter is not a home. I believe we can build 1 million square feet of space for a home within three years of my election to the city council.
I will work with our Mayor, our city council, non-profits, regional governments, developers, and our business community to increase the urgency to build one million square feet of space dedicated to the homeless throughout the city that allow the unhoused to begin to create homes. We need to develop these homes in a manner that is inclusive of and in respect of the communities they are a part of. This will be done via a diverse set of “wrap-around” services that meet people where they are. Here are the concrete steps I’m going to take.
Rather than work against the KCRHA, I will work with them, along with other organizations that are dedicated to ending homelessness. I will stand up to the mayor’s office to shift focus to mitigating the impact of “illegal encampments” while our collaborative systems of service providers can get them to a meaningful transition.
We will have to develop new revenue streams, expand the jumpstart tax, and facilitate additional progressive tax structures. If we are able to address the current need and work on all the solutions that prevent homelessness in the first place we do not see the initial costs and infrastructure to be permanent. In the same vein as lowering costs and creating semi-permanent developments, we will utilize unused or easily repurposed public land. In addition to using the existing budget for homelessness, I am going to raise an additional $90m, which will come in the form of taxes, as well as other tools (See budgeting page for complete breakdown)
I will create, by ordinance, a pathway to allow sanctioned encampments for those who are not ready to come inside, ensuring that anyone we do ask to move out of an area that is inappropriate for camping or parking has a reasonable alternative.
We will start identifying potential sites for campgrounds, RV lots, and other types of emergency housing from day one. Alongside these efforts, we will craft legislation allowing the city to buy or lease these sites and operate low-barrier, high-quality shelters there. While we envision many of these spaces being relatively light on infrastructure, we will use union labor to build them, and we will connect the unhoused people whom we hope to have to live in them with apprenticeships and job training to help in those efforts.
To support these pragmatic investments in emergency homelessness services aimed at the goal of achieving functional zero homelessness, and to encourage landlords to offer more affordable housing and commercial space, my office will propose a vacancy tax for any units that remain unrented for more than six months. Our goal would be to collect $0 of this tax, but we will utilize it, if necessary, to combat homelessness.