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'Housing crisis' fears ramp up as eviction moratoriums, unemployment benefits expire

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Posted at 7:17 PM, Jul 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-23 20:17:09-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With the start of August looming, the end of government support for renters and the unemployed have raising concerns about a housing crisis.

With so many people on unemployment and the uncertainty of when they will get jobs, it's a struggle for many to pay their bills.

"For people who are already housing insecure, COVID-19 has kind of pushed us over the edge," concerned resident Tiana Caldwell said.

It's a struggle for Caldwell's family to pay the rent right now, as the two-time cancer survivor was laid off during the pandemic.

"We’re just trying to make it," Caldwell said.

It's a challenge several other families are facing.

"Our biggest fear is the influx of families that we have on our wait list," Kansas City, Missouri, Housing Authority Executive Director Edwin Lowndes said. "Our wait list on our voucher program is now approaching 10 families and nearly 9,000 for public housing."

Many of those are duplicate families on both of their housing programs.

Lowndes said about 30 to 40 percent of the families they serve are unemployed because of the pandemic and their clients pay rent based on their income.

"While we have funds to operate the program as is, we see there’s a much higher need that is not being met," Lowndes said.

Lowndes said many housing providers try to work out a financial plan if the tenants cannot pay rent right away.

"Get out in front of it, talk to the tenants make sure they know that A, they do owe the rent but two, work with them on getting back caught up so they’re not facing a situation that could happen into the future," Lowndes said.

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans are working on another relief bill to extend benefits and possibly another stimulus payment.

41 Action News asked Missouri Senator Josh Hawley about any more Federal assistance and he said he's just focused on getting people back to work.

"Short term-solutions just aren’t going to work anymore," Hawley said in an interview. "We’ve got to get to that place where people have the security that they can control their own income flow, know where its coming from, they know where that paycheck is going to come from, and what it’s going to be and they can have some control over their lives again."

Housing authorities believe there will not be mass evictions next month, even if the moratoriums lift.

"We’re hoping there won't be any influx of evictions, but sometimes I think the evictions is just a way to get everybody in the room to say how to we solve this problem," Lowndes said.

"We’re looking at August and September and we’re in a pandemic where the best thing you can do is stay at home and people are having their homes taken from them," Caldwell said.