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Politically Speaking: Jason Kander On Ending Homelessness Among Veterans

Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Jason Kander speaks at a labor rally in St. Charles earlier this fall. Kander is squaring off against U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt this November.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Jason Kander speaks at a labor rally in St. Charles in 2016. Kander now is leading the national expansion of a group seeking to endless homelessness among veterans.

Former Democratic Secretary of State Jason Kander is the latest guest on Politically Speaking, where he talked about his efforts with the Veterans Community Project to end homelessness among veterans.

Kander joined St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum for a special edition of the podcast that was livestreamed on Twitch. Kander also discussed national efforts to make it easier to vote from home and protests decrying police killing Black people.

Here’s what Kander talked about on the program:

  • His first year with Veterans Community Project, which creates villages of “tiny houses” to help veterans who are homeless. In particular, Kander talked about how COVID-19 affected his group’s efforts — and what the group is doing to prepare for a potential wave of evictions.
  • Efforts to expand the Veterans Community Project into St. Louis. The group is in the process of buying land in the 18th Ward in the north-central part of the city to create a village of tiny houses. Kander said his group is seeking to get state funds from Missouri’s medical marijuana program.
  • National efforts to have states proactively send registered voters ballots at their homes. That’s become a bigger issue amid widespread concerns that voters may contract coronavirus at polling places.
  • The next steps for people and policymakers after protests for police accountability — and his reflections on white privilege and how religion affected his view on racial equity.

Kander is a Kansas City native who served in the Missouri House from 2009 to 2013. He ran for secretary of state in 2012, winning a hard-fought election against Republican Shane Schoeller. (Schoeller, who is now Greene County Clerk, recently appeared on Politically Speaking with Boone County Clerk Brianna Lennon.)

Kander ended up forgoing a run for re-election in 2016 to challenge U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt. While Kander came up short against Blunt, he gained national attention by only losing narrowly in a state that President Donald Trump won by nearly 19 percentage points.

Once he left elected office, Kander became a commentator on CNN — and started a group aimed at influencing elections policy called Let America Vote. He eventually entered the race for Kansas City mayor, but ended up dropping out of that contest to tend to his post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

Kander has consistently said he has no plans to run for office again right now, a topic he discussed at length in the Politically Speaking episode. In addition to working with the Veterans Community Project, Kander hosts Majority 54 — one of the more popular podcasts in the country about American politics. 

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaumusa

Follow Jason Kander on Twitter: @jasonkander

Music: “Ride Like the Wind” by Christopher Cross

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.

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