Second homeless person dies in the cold in Kansas City


Police are investigating the second death of a person experiencing homelessness in Kansas City this weekend. Officers responded to a vacant building near 53rd St. and Prospect Ave. Sunday evening where a deceased person was found. Alina Heart volunteers with various groups that help people experiencing homelessness. She said she was asked to check on the person believed to be staying there. She called police when she found the body.“He had what I would call warm weather clothes to survive outside and it was apparent that somebody was trying to live here and stay warm,” said Heart.Daniel Thomas works for the motel across the street. He said he saw a man staying there all summer, coming and going, keeping to himself.“I assumed he left and found some type of shelter but to see this, it’s depressing to see someone die like that out here in the cold elements, no home, no place.”This was devasting for Heart, whose friend, known as Sixx, was found dead in a wooded area near 24th St. and Woodland Ave. Friday. She said she worked with him for years, helping him with tasks like getting an ID. Police said it appears he died of natural causes. She and other advocates who knew him say the cold likely contributed to his death.“Every time somebody dies it traumatizes the whole community because they know that it could be them tomorrow or their friend. It’s very hard for all the volunteers, we see them every week, and we grow very attached to them.”Sunday afternoon, Frank Savory, owner of Savory and Sons Funeral Home, held a press conference with Councilman Brandon Ellington, to announce he would provide free funeral services for the man who died Friday. The Kansas City Police Department has not identified him. A spokesperson said investigators were still working to contact next of kin. “It touched me because it could have been me and I have actually had family members who have been homeless,” said Savory. “It’s just unfortunate that he had to lose his life due to this unfortunate circumstance.”Ellington said he would like to see the city find ways to utilize existing funding and resources to help. “When we look at the abandoned motels and school buildings we have here, these are the perfect buildings not only to provide adequate shelter but to provide a safe space.”He also proposes creating “permanent enclaves” at city parks with access to support services.“We spend roughly around 20,000 per cleanup, they do that two to three times a year that’s about 60 to 80,000 per site depending on where they’re at. It would be a lot cheaper to create an enclave in close proximity to resources that will have a cheaper price tag of actually creating permanent temporary housing for people that’s there and access to service providers. That’s something I’m hopeful we’ll get off the ground.”Organizations that provide shelter have been challenged by the pandemic with precautions limiting capacity. Many libraries and community centers that typically serve as warming centers during the day were closed because of the holiday or limiting access because of safety precautions. Heart says she would like to see the city take action to protect houseless people from the winter weather.“All the groups are working hard and more people are becoming homeless. Resources are stretched. Something needs to be done. They can’t freeze to death. It’s a horrible way to die.”

Police are investigating the second death of a person experiencing homelessness in Kansas City this weekend. Officers responded to a vacant building near 53rd St. and Prospect Ave. Sunday evening where a deceased person was found. Alina Heart volunteers with various groups that help people experiencing homelessness. She said she was asked to check on the person believed to be staying there. She called police when she found the body.

“He had what I would call warm weather clothes to survive outside and it was apparent that somebody was trying to live here and stay warm,” said Heart.

Daniel Thomas works for the motel across the street. He said he saw a man staying there all summer, coming and going, keeping to himself.

“I assumed he left and found some type of shelter but to see this, it’s depressing to see someone die like that out here in the cold elements, no home, no place.”

This was devasting for Heart, whose friend, known as Sixx, was found dead in a wooded area near 24th St. and Woodland Ave. Friday. She said she worked with him for years, helping him with tasks like getting an ID. Police said it appears he died of natural causes. She and other advocates who knew him say the cold likely contributed to his death.

“Every time somebody dies it traumatizes the whole community because they know that it could be them tomorrow or their friend. It’s very hard for all the volunteers, we see them every week, and we grow very attached to them.”

Sunday afternoon, Frank Savory, owner of Savory and Sons Funeral Home, held a press conference with Councilman Brandon Ellington, to announce he would provide free funeral services for the man who died Friday. The Kansas City Police Department has not identified him. A spokesperson said investigators were still working to contact next of kin.

“It touched me because it could have been me and I have actually had family members who have been homeless,” said Savory. “It’s just unfortunate that he had to lose his life due to this unfortunate circumstance.”

Ellington said he would like to see the city find ways to utilize existing funding and resources to help.

“When we look at the abandoned motels and school buildings we have here, these are the perfect buildings not only to provide adequate shelter but to provide a safe space.”

He also proposes creating “permanent enclaves” at city parks with access to support services.

“We spend roughly around 20,000 [dollars] per cleanup, they do that two to three times a year that’s about 60 to 80,000 [dollars] per site depending on where they’re at. It would be a lot cheaper to create an enclave in close proximity to resources that will have a cheaper price tag of actually creating permanent temporary housing for people that’s there and access to service providers. That’s something I’m hopeful we’ll get off the ground.”

Organizations that provide shelter have been challenged by the pandemic with precautions limiting capacity. Many libraries and community centers that typically serve as warming centers during the day were closed because of the holiday or limiting access because of safety precautions. Heart says she would like to see the city take action to protect houseless people from the winter weather.

“All the groups are working hard and more people are becoming homeless. Resources are stretched. Something needs to be done. They can’t freeze to death. It’s a horrible way to die.”



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