It Doesn't Have To Be This Way

As many of you know, our foundation office is located on the corner of 18th and Prospect Street in Kansas City, Mo. As I drive to work every morning I purposefully drive through various neighborhoods that are adjacent to our office. The 64127 zip code where our office is located has one of the highest crime rates in the city, high foreclosure rates, high drug use and low owner occupancy rates. As you drive, you'll see many people waiting in lines at bus stops, boarded up old buildings and homes, no full service grocery stores and an abudance of liquor stores and fast food restaurants. Unfortunately, people are shot in this neighborhood on a somewhat regular basis.

Hard working, church going, law abiding people who live in this part of the city will tell you that the living and economic conditions are getting worse year by year. With the revitalization of our downtown -- only a few blocks away -- many people thought that east of Troost Street would benefit from this economic development. It simply has not happen. Thanks to the efforts of Buck O’Neil and many generous donors the historic and magnificent Negro League Baseball Museum was built several years ago, but the entire 18th and Vine area has not made much progress since.

When neighborhoods and the people who live in this zip code have no hope that their living and economic conditions will improve, gang activity, crime, violence and poverty related conditions flourish.

It doesn’t have to be this way. As a community, we must work toward quality educational and training opportunities and good paying jobs with health benefits that are needed to provide hope for a better life for those in this important neighborhood of our city.


Thanks again for your thoughts. It is always nice to read your reflections. I believe it is very important for all community members to be aware of the type of poverty that exists in this community. I challenge you, Steve, to write a blog with idea’s/ solutions to this poverty epidemic. People like Alvin Brooks, Sister Berta and Brother Lewis and many others have been at it for years trying to crack poverty in KC. We have made strides as a community but sometimes as providers it feels like we are moving backwards. In 2004, the Blunt Administration cut thousands of people off Medicaid. This is merely one example out of hundreds how the poor are getting poorer and losing supportive services in the metro area. I challenge every reader of your blog to read, “The Framework for Understanding Poverty,” by Ruby Payne. It is an excellent depiction of what kind of poverty we are dealing with at 18th and Prospect, and how difficult it is for a family to get out of the cycle of poverty. Why is neither presidential candidate discussing poverty in America? In America, over 13 million children live in poverty… that is 1 and every 6 children. As Sister Berta would say that fact alone should keep all of us awake at night and challenge us to do more for our community. Thank you Steve, for bringing this to our attention and I hope to continue the discussion of poverty in KC and the solutions that might exist for these families.

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About Me

Steve Roling

Steve Roling

Steve Roling is the President/CEO of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City. Each week he blogs about issues that inspire him as we work toward eliminating barriers to quality health.



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