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Kansas City housing fund slow to take off

Posted at 5:04 PM, Jun 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-07 18:10:25-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City, Missouri leaders created an affordable housing fund months ago, but it still does not have a dedicated funding source.

With less than 12 days until the Kansas City mayoral election, KC Tenants Association volunteers are making calls and encouraging people to think about affordable housing when they head to the polls.

"That should be the next mayor's airport, not that shiny thing up in the north, but how to take care of people in Kansas City proper,” Diane Charity with the KC Tenants said.

Affordable housing has been a hot button issue this year. City leaders heard the push for more affordable housing loud and clear and created a housing fund.

"There is one in name only. We created an account for one that existed for a couple of months,” councilman Scott Wagner said.

Wagner is the chair of the finance committee.

When scooter companies Bird and Lime made their way to the city, council members agreed to divert the city’s cut of profits to the housing fund.

Leaders estimated a million dollars in revenue from scooters.

So far, Lime is no longer operating in the city and only $100,000 is set aside for housing.

"To create five thousand affordable units it needs to be subsidized and the price tag has been estimated at $75 million dollars, so it is needed. It is desired but you've got to have money though to make that happen,” Wagner said.

Charity said the focus should be on the people.

"When it comes to priority for the powers that be, they will find that funding. If they can do the GO bonds, if they can even dream of doing a $400 million dollar bike lane, surely they can find more than $75 million dollars for this housing fund,” she said.

Wagner said scooter revenue is not good enough. His suggestion is not popular, but he believes there may not be any other choice.

"If that is a tax, a fee, something, if there is anything that is being kicked down the road, it is if we want to make a tough decision and further more ask our citizens to make a tough decision,” Wagner said.