Police in Kansas City, Mo., have uncovered an "underground suburb" where homeless people have been living, the likes of which homeless outreach groups have never seen, local station KMBC-TV reported. An intricate network of tunnels and caves had been carved underground, some as far down as 20 to 25 feet. Inside, police found rooms with bedding and candles. There were tents propped above ground, suggesting that several people were calling the unlikely place home.
"This one kind of goes back," Officer Jason Cooley said, in describing a tunnel to KMBC, while surveying the grounds. "The tents over here, I can guarantee you they're still lived-in because of the condition they're in. They're clean. They were more than likely used just last night."
According to The Kansas City Star, some of the entryways to the underground tunnels were concealed, while others had wood stacked around them or were completely open. Police discovered the underground complex while investigating cases of copper theft in a nearby industrial area. They came back to evict the homeless "tenants" because of squalid conditions, KMBC reported. "We're working to find out if, in fact, they've got kids down here because this is not a safe environment for that," Cooley said. A pile of diapers had been found at the scene. Police used Bobcat bulldozers to dig up the debris surrounding the campsite and to fill in the tunnels dug underground.
When police returned Friday with Hope Faith Ministries, an outreach group, to disassemble the camp, they found four people there. It wasn't clear when the underground network was built or how many people were living there. Those suspected of living there are also thought to be connected to the rash of thefts in the area.
Hope Faith Ministries offered services to the homeless residents, and three of the four said they would accept the help, the Star reported. "By providing help for these people in this manner, maybe they won't feel the need to go out and steal because they're getting services they need to be able to live and survive," Cooley told KMBC.
This is a sad case of people trying to survive by literally going underground, but we've seen much happier uses of underground spaces. Our favorite is the case English homeowner John Wiggins, who built a replica of an iron mine under his backyard. The mine has a 150-foot corridor that looks exactly like the mines that were prevalent in his area back in the 1800s.
See more on homelessness:
Homeless Man's Camouflaged Shack Shielded Him From Authorities for Months, Police Say
U.S. Homeless Rate Stays Steady Despite Government Efforts to Curb It
Homeless Man Allegedly Rents Out Vacant Home to Tenants
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