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Kansas City, Missouri, could create Department of Housing to help with homelessness

Tenant issues, affordable housing key focuses
Posted at 9:35 PM, Apr 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-21 23:27:07-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — Kansas City, Missouri, could soon add a Department of Housing to its infrastructure in order to focus on tenant issues, affordable housing, homelessness and community development.

"This really has been an outgrowth of all the feedback we’ve gotten from residents who want more of an emphasis on affordable housing and helping the unhoused and dealing with those basic issues that we have in Kansas City about where and how people live," KCMO City Spokesman Chris Hernandez said.

City council members are debating a proposal to create the department, which would oversee all aspects of housing in a coordinated effort. The Office of Tenant Advocate also would be under this department. It's something the group KC Tenants advocated for during the city's budgeting process.

The measure went to council members during a recent finance committee meeting, but was tabled until next week.

Stacey Johnson-Cosby, president of the KC Regional Housing Alliance, said having everything under one umbrella would make the process of providing housing simpler.

"We think it will make it easier for those of us who create housing to have people to contact and how to streamline the process when we get into the work that we do," Johnson-Cosby said.

If approved, the department also would give housing providers a seat at the table when the city crafts policies, according to Johnson-Cosby.

"We want to make sure that any regulations are common sense," she said. "That they're not regulations that disincentivize housing providers."

41 Action News spoke with others in Kansas City who agree that this would be a good idea when it comes to those experiencings homelessness within the city.

"If people get their heads together that are capable of solving this, maybe there’d be little to no homelessness probably in the near future," resident Nicole Nothhard said, "if we can all get together and figure out a problem instead of just talking about it and do something about it."

Those paying rent also said they think having a one-stop-shop is the way to go.

"The city has fumbled a few things in my opinion, so I'm just hoping they follow through on it," resident Jeremy Reid said.

The cost of a housing department, as well as other details, still are being worked out as council members continue discussions next week.

More information about the proposed ordinance can be found on the Kansas City, Missouri, website.