Letters from the week
of February 4 

Feature: "Battle on Armour," January 14

Nowhere to Hyde

Peter Rugg's story was a great article on a troubling area of town — it sort of made me feel like I live in Mission Hills!

My partner and I moved into Troost Plateau (part of the 49/63 neighborhood) three years ago. While the neighborhood is coming back up, we still have some struggles, but nothing like what is going on with Hyde Park. It is always interesting reading about our urban-core neighborhoods. Keep up the good work!

John Eric Campbell
Kansas City, Missouri

History Lesson

I think this was a good article.

I lived in the same building in 1989 that I live in now, and Armour Boulevard is different. I live across the street from the Kenwood Apartments, where a man was killed recently. One of my neighbors was caught in the rapid gunfire into that apartment building. Imagine the terror of the people in the building, the concern for their children! Violence is not a Section 8 issue. It is our issue.

High-rise apartments have no space for children, no outdoor space for older people to sit, no parks nearby; they have people who prey on others, people who do not care about anything or anyone; and they are generally not healthy for people, especially when there are no role models for people to emulate. It has been proved in every major city that mixed-use is a better way to house people. Why would HUD allow 20-, 30- or 40-year contracts on high-rise apartments for Section 8? And because the contracts were made 20 years ago, does that mean they have to continue?

I love the building I live in, and I love Armour Boulevard and look forward to seeing these wonderful old buildings come back to life. However, that won't happen if HUD continues to allow long-term contracts for buildings whose only tenants are Section 8, disregards the lack of management skills of those property owners who are irresponsible in screening their tenants in a Section 8 building, does not require responsible behavior of staff and tenants, and continues to avoid mixed-use buildings.

Carolyn W. Cameron
Kansas City, Missouri

Feature: "Out in the Cold," January 7

One-sided?

I am no longer a resident of Kansas City but I still check out The Pitch.

I am concerned about your reporting on the refugees and JVS. The story seemed one-sided, that Carolyn Szczepanski took the word of the refugees. Have you spoken to more than one person at JVS?

What readers are understanding is that JVS doesn't care about the refugees and is withholding things and not providing the best. The money to help them comes from the federal government and donations from primarily Jewish Kansas City residents. Finding housing for a family of five or more is difficult even for citizens, but finding it for individuals who will have to pay on their own in a few months is very difficult. Obviously, the landlords who agree to house them are not going to put them up in an apartment on the Plaza. They put them where low-income citizens reside. And, yes, these places are crappy, but that is what's available. I have also heard of landlords ending contracts or refusing to house refugees based on their experiences with past refugees, citing their hygiene, cleanliness of the property, not keeping basic utilities on, and not paying the rent once the government funds expire.

Why should JVS and the individuals who do the housing be tarred and feathered?

Again, your story was completely one-sided. I work in social services, so I showed the story to a few co-workers, and they said the same thing. Isn't it the job of a good reporter to report facts, investigate and not take sides?

Julie Senior
Midlothian, Virginia

Unsettled Feelings

On behalf of a group of current and hardworking employees at Jewish Vocational Service, I think The Pitch could do better. For one, Carolyn Szczepanski could have interviewed us for her article on refugee resettlement. We were never contacted or asked one question about our work to assist refugees and immigrants struggling to make a new life in Kansas City. Although we do not have time to indulge in a point-by-point refutation of the allegations in the article because we are too busy, here are some more suggestions to improve the quality of reporting on this very critical issue: (1) Get some exercise. The Pitch is just 1.5 blocks away from the JVS office. The paper has never shown an interest in JVS or the refugee community until just a few months ago. (2) Talk to more than 200 JVS affiliates and partners, including refugee and immigrant organizations, universities, hospitals and schools in the city, who are also working diligently to assist refugee resettlement. You would have heard a different story about the quality of our work. (3) Provide a broader context so that the public can understand the depth of the problem. A good place to start is ISED Solutions, a forum at the Institute for Social and Economic Development (ised.us/category/blog-categories/public-policy-dialogue/public-policy-dialogue-reforming-us-refugee-program).

Cathy Anderson
Kansas City, Missouri

Carolyn Szczepanski responds: I visited the JVS office and met with the executive director and resettlement director for nearly three hours. For several weeks after that, I asked them numerous follow-up questions to clarify any issues that were not covered in our initial discussion. As for the context, I spoke to officials at the Department of State and noted in the story that the U.S. resettlement program is currently under review by a White House-appointed task force.

Café: "Sucker for succotash," January 28

Sufferin' Succotash

Three of us meet for breakfast every Saturday morning at various locations. Succotash was a favorite — until it moved. We drove quite a distance to its new location, only to discover to our disappointment that it doesn't open until 9 a.m.! What's the point of a breakfast spot that isn't open at breakfast time? Oh, well. Back to You Say Tomato, Eggtc., Blue Bird, etc. — all places that are open for breakfast at breakfast time, not simply when it's convenient for them.

Paul DeRanek
Kansas City, Missouri

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