New organization wants action from Unified Government


Opinion column

by Murrel Bland

It was part religious revival and another part political rally.

At the end of nearly an hour and one-half of a very well-rehearsed meeting, more than 1,000 members of 17 Wyandotte County churches got what they came for — a commitment from Mayor Tyrone Garner and two Unified Government commissioners.

The group met at Mt. Carmel Church of God in Christ in the Northeast community of Kansas City, Kansas, Tuesday, June 7.

Members of the parishes have formed an organization called Churches United for Justice (CUFJ). The faiths include United Methodist, Baptist, Philadelphia Bible, Peace and Fellowship, Church of Christ and Episcopal. The group’s focus will be on the need for affordable housing and curbing violence.

The Rev. Andy Frazier, pastor of The United Methodist Church, Bonner Springs, made an extensive presentation telling the dark history of “redlining,” a practice eliminating persons in certain neighborhoods from receiving government-backed home loans. This was practiced here and in several other communities in the United States. Frazier said this practice had a far-reaching negative effect on communities including its schools.

Because of this injustice, CUFJ is proposing the creation of the Affordable Housing and Equity Trust Fund. It would be funded by a $25 million fund from the Unified Government of Wyandotte County in Kansas City, Kansas; the source of the federal funds would be stimulus money awarded to local governments because of the COVID pandemic.

The violence issue is very apparent as Wyandotte County has the highest homicide rate in the state of Kansas. CUFJ calls for law enforcement to work with CUFJ in securing a $425,000 grant from the Unified Government to hire a representative of the National Network for Safe Communities. This organization uses programs such as Group Violence Intervention (GVI). When used effectively, such as in Oakland, California, it has reduced the homicide rate by 43 percent.

Mayor Garner and two Unified Government commissioners, Gayle Townsend and Andrew Davis, said they supported the housing and anti-violence programs. But the political reality is that there must be at least three other votes before any proposal is passed.

Certainly CUFJ has done a lot of research. But there are some very practical questions that still linger with any such housing proposal. The first is the issue of skilled labor; right now those who build houses have difficulty in obtaining good help.

Often affordable housing has not been welcome in certain neighborhoods. There is also a Greater Kansas City public policy matter. Are other communities, such as Johnson County, doing what they should to support affordable housing?

CUFJ will meet again on Thursday, Sept. 22, to see if the mayor and Unified Government commissioners have accepted their proposals.

Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press.

4 thoughts on “New organization wants action from Unified Government”

  1. Hi Murrel, thanks for this reporting. I want to add some clarity and context to what I committed to as a commissioner. When commissioners were asked to support the affordable housing and equity trust fund, no dollar amount was attached. I merely committed to “a significant amount of funding” for affordable housing and equity trust fund. I stand by my commitment to supporting that statement, I did not commit to $25M nor any other specific dollar amount for the affordable housing trust fund that night.

    The reason I want to provide clarity on this is that multiple community needs have been identified as a priority for funding like code enforcement, parks, stormwater infrastructure, and street repair (to name a few). These priorities are also important and I’d hate for anyone to read this and believe that such calculations are not being taken into account as we steward our ARPA resources.

    I look forward to working with CUFJ and the rest of our community to push for solutions that help Wyandotte County for today and beyond.


    Commissioner Davis
    8th District

  2. A better title is New organization wants money from Unified Government

  3. Which is the more important issue for CUFJ? The affordable housing or curbing the violence? Realize the Oakland plan was or is time consuming but just by a single read thru of the pdf it seems the guidelines to follow could work here in kcks. I used to think it was just black guys killing black guys some time ago. I found a map of kcmo homicides where I could just push a location on a keyboard and it would give info. about a killing. Shame on me – the first place I chose shows a white man found dead in a lot, the second place I picked I think was a white or hispanic woman found dead/shot. It was not until the third choice where I’d come across a homicide that related to the black race and that turned out to be a murder suicide inside a home. Definitely not what I thought things would be. Something else – someone , cufj?, mentions using pandemic funds for funding. How soon do the funds need to be used before the city is not allow to used them anymore? I don’t need a reply back, just something to think about. Then there’s Andy’s agenda, hmm, interesting to see how far we get with all of this.

  4. It’s only taxpayer money that, in my humblest of opinions, should never got to any group affiliated with a church or tax exempt organization. Maybe it’s time that Church’s lose their Tax Exempt status as well, one can only imagine the windfall in local, state and federal tax income that may provide.

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