In Northeast Kansas City’s historic neighborhoods, preserving the aging housing stock is a priority for those focused on affordable housing.
For neighborhoods like Indian Mound, which is bordered by Gladstone Boulevard to the north, Belmont Boulevard to the east, Independence Avenue to the south, and portions of Jackson, Kensington and Elmwood to the West, the urgency is increasing.
The Indian Mound neighborhood association, like each neighborhood in Northeast, works in partnership with Legal Aid of Western Missouri, an organization that provides free civil legal assistance to people who need it most and can afford it least.
Legal Aid serves over 40 counties in Missouri, where approximately 295,000 people live in poverty, helping them stay in their homes, escape domestic violence, secure veterans’ benefits or address many other legal challenges that go to the heart of their security and well-being .
“It’s basically providing access to legal services for low income persons in Kansas City, St. Joseph, Warrensburg and Joplin,” said Brandon Mason, Managing Attorney of the West Office and Economic Development Unit. “My unit is the Economic Development Unit, and we’re really focused on neighborhood preservation and combating blight in housing, so we represent primarily neighborhoods, targeting vacant and abandoned properties and abuse of out of town owners.”
They use the legal system to either obtain repairs to properties, or to take control of abandoned properties to rehabilitate them, restore them and get families living in them again.
The primary tool they use is the Abandoned Housing Act, a state statute specific to Missouri.
“It permits certain nonprofits, and it’s almost always neighborhood