For as long as they can remember, neighbors say the boarded-up house on the 3200 block of Bellefontaine Ave. has sat empty. Laura Belt considered buying it until she looked inside.
“There was like vines and trees growing up through the middle. I honestly don’t remember if we went to the second floor because I thought this is not going to be a house for us. It just seemed like it was going to take a lot of work to move into.”
That was twelve years ago. The house is still vacant with a busted roof and the floor caved in. Its market value, according to Jackson County property records, is over 35,000 dollars. The Land Bank of Kansas City plans to sell it for one dollar.
“This is one of the hundred-plus homes that the city of Kansas City owns right now that we are seeking to transform from the vacant abandoned blighted structures to homes for those most in need in the city,” said City Manager Brian Platt.
The Land Bank is issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking organizations to rehabilitate the properties and offer them to families and individuals who are unhoused or at the risk of becoming homeless. Platt says they plan to pick partners committed to that mission, not people looking to take advantage of a deal.
“We’re going to do what we can to make sure these stay in the right hands.”
Platt said reports indicated there are approximately 1500 unhoused people in the area and the city needs up to 15,000 new affordable housing units.
“This is a great opportunity. It’s going to make a big impact in dozens and hundreds of people’s lives but we still got a long ways to go.”
Belt ended up buying a house down the street for 20,000 dollars and said she invested over 50,000 dollars in fixing it up. Her neighbor across the street had a similar story, renovating his fixer-upper home about six years ago. They say they are curious to see if the house can be salvaged and how they will decide who would move in.
“I think that’s great if it’s going to be for people who need housing and if they are going to be able to like to help them be able to renovate,” said Belt. “I’d hate [for it to be] like pay me a dollar and then we are done. I would hope that they would support them with the process of getting loans and rehabbing it,” said Belt.
The land bank properties are located in the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Council Districts. The vacant Bellefontaine house is located in the zip code with the lowest life expectancy in Kansas City. Belt says she worries about gentrification but would like to see investment in the community.
“I just feel like this is a forgotten area of the city and it would be nice to have like people investing not to like make profit off us but invest because that’s the right thing to do for people and for this neighborhood.”
There will be an informational meeting Thursday at 6 pm at Neighborhoods and Housing Services. In-person seating will be limited. The meeting will also be available virtually. For more information, visit KCMOLandBank.org.