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Kansas City tenant advocates disagree with new housing ordinance proposed by mayor

KC Tenants organizers
Posted at 9:13 PM, Aug 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-11 23:15:26-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas announced a new package of legislation geared towards building more affordable housing in Kansas City.

"$50 million for affordable housing being the most important part, for $7 million we created 500 units of housing," Lucas said. "That means we're looking at thousands of new affordable housing units for people in Kansas City."

Lucas added that city officials want to change how they fast track economic development incentives.

"In the last year and a half, Kansas City has received almost no project applications related to incentives for affordable housing, this allows us to try to get that done," Lucas said.

The language of the ordinance regarding incentives reads as follows:

"Establishing administrative processes for awarding standard incentive packages to residential, office, and industrial developments that meet certain criteria and directing the City Manager and the Director of Finance to take certain acts to implement the standard incentive packages."

KC Tenants, a city-wide tenant union in KCMO, says they're not on board with the new legislation proposed by the mayor.

"I don't think it meets the needs of tenants in Kansas City, I think that it is another way we'll get pushed out of our community," Jenay Manley, an organizer with KC tenants, said.

Wilson Vance, another organizer with KC Tenants, said the legislation doesn't help make housing more affordable in the city.

"One piece of the conversation that's been missing for a long time is what's truly affordable, because even the current set-aside is inadequate," Vance said.

The set-aside provision dictates how many affordable units are built by a developer for a certain project. Cost is calculated by a key figure.

"The current AMI, or area median income that is used to define affordable rent in Kansas City, is based off of 13 counties in the KC metro area, and that includes homeowner and renter income, and that number is $86,600 a year," Vance said.

According to Vance, that AMI is not representative of the people who actually live in KCMO.

"If you were to just look at the income data of tenant households in Kansas City, Missouri, that’s $38,000," Vance said. "So it’s very clear when we’ve been talking about how $1,200 isn’t affordable, and we ask affordable for who, the answer is it’s affordable for a homeowner in Mission Hills, but not a tenant in Kansas City."

The KCMO City Council hasn't voted on the new proposed ordinances, but KC Tenants says they want a seat at the table first.

"You need to sit down with residents, you need to sit down with tenants, you need to talk to people and see what we can actually do," Kaylove Edwards, another KC Tenants organizer, said.