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Rent money relief available through United Way for Jackson, Johnson county residents

CDC eviction ban ends Dec. 31
Posted at 6:04 PM, Nov 30, 2020

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tuesday is Dec. 1 and many struggling families have rent due.

According to Stout Risius LLC, which has tracked rent and eviction issues for months, up to 234,00 households in Missouri and more than 100,000 households in Kansas were at risk for eviction earlier this month.

The pandemic shut down parts of the economy this year and put added pressure on people like Tiana Caldwell.

"No one should be out on the street, especially with the crisis going on," Caldwell told 41 Action News in March.

The two-time cancer survivor also talked about what it’s like to face eviction.

"When they show up to your door, they post that... you feel your heart drop to your stomach," she said.

Last month, a video was posted on Twitter showing members of a group called KC Tenants chaining the doors shut to the Jackson County, Missouri, Courthouse to protest ongoing evictions during the pandemic when many people are struggling.

“We need people staying in their homes with the rent paid and we definitely do not want people evicted," said Stacey Johnson-Cosby, chair of the KC Regional Housing Alliance.

To reach that goal, the alliance has been working with the United Way.

According to Johnson-Cosby, there are millions of unspent dollars in our area from the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act Congress passed, and President Trump signed into law in March.

If that CARES Act money is not spent by the end of the year, it goes back to the federal government.

The Mid America Association of Real Estate Investors or MAREI has posted links to its website for the two forms landlords need to fill out to get the United Way CARES Act money, and the one form for tenants.

Each tenant in both Jackson County, Missouri, and Johnson County, Kansas, can apply for up to $10,000 of rental assistance to get current.

That money will go directly to the landlords.

“It would bring a lot of people current. It won’t help going forward, but at least for going backwards, it will stop evictions that are in process,” said Kim Tucker of MAREI.

Tucker also said it’s not just tenants who are hurting, but landlords, too.

She said many members of her organization rely on rent money from their tenants to pay mortgages, taxes, insurance and upkeep.

"They’re pulling money out of their own bank accounts to keep houses afloat. But eventually, they’re going to run out of money,” Tucker said.

CARES Act money for rent is also available for KCMO residents who live in Clay County through Northland Neighborhoods, Inc.

A Centers for Disease Control order to prevent evictions for some types of tenants for non-payment expires at the end of the year.

“The government has mandated that we allow people to live in our properties for free and we must take care of them and that’s not sustainable,” said Johnson-Cosby.

She said a recent survey of property owners in the KC Regional Housing Alliance showed 30 percent of them were having problems paying their mortgages.

"And you better believe that if someone called on a cold day and said 'Hey, my heat is not working,' that we better find a way to get there and take care of it," Johnson-Cosby said.

The same survey found 40 percent of owners will sell their properties if the situation doesn’t change.

"If we lose the small to medium independent housing providers, then the properties are going to be sold to out of state corporate landlords and that's not good for any marketplace,” Johnson-Cosby said.

She also said if the problem persists at the start of the new year, the government will need to provide more money for rental assistance or risk mass evictions, property sales and foreclosures.