NewsLocal News


KC metro could see 50K households at risk for homelessness, advocates say

Community LINC executive of development
Posted at 10:37 PM, Dec 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-15 23:56:58-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Roughly 50,000 households in the Kansas City metro are at risk of homelessness, and there aren't enough resources to serve them all, according to local advocates.

"Some agencies get so many calls, they have to stop the calls," Teresa McClain, director of development at Community LINC, said. "They don't have the capacity to be able to help the number of calls that come in."

Their warning comes as Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas requested that Jackson County's 16th Judicial Circuit extend the eviction moratorium into June 2021.

McClain told 41 Action News the need at Community LINC, which helps the homeless and provides rent and utilities assistance, is greater now than ever before.

"We had a big flood of people about a month after COVID hit, and it kind of leveled, and now it's starting to peak back up significantly," McClain said.

RELATED: Jackson County Courthouse to continue landlord, tenant cases despite calls for new moratorium

Most of those contacting the group who have maxed out their unemployment benefits and have never sought resources like housing assistance. One woman McClain worked with had been a bus driver Blue Valley School District for 14 years and "barely made it week to week."

"After her unemployment benefits ran out, she eventually was evicted," McClain said. "[She and] her daughter were sleeping in a truck."

Community LINC recently found that mother and daughter a new home. They're among the 140 households the organization has helped so far during the economic and housing crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

RELATED: Housing attorney: Evictions in KC metro will happen in waves

More are expected as the end of eviction moratoriums are the horizon. But Rachel North, an attorney at Legal Aid of Western Missouri, said the moratoriums have done a lot good thus far.

"A lot of our clients have been able to get back on their feet back working full time and get caught up on rent," North said, "or we've been able to use that extra time to settle with landlords and come up with some solution."

North, along with her colleague Blake Hatfield, staff the agency's Justice in the Halls Program, which provides legal advice and representation to tenants facing eviction in KC.

Housing advocates said they hope the current eviction moratoriums are extended.

RELATED: Number of new eviction cases filed is down for now, but increase expected

"It's much cheaper to try to help that family while they're still in the home -household-while they're in the home, give them some case management, give them some financial assistance before they're completely homeless," McClain said.

But Stacey Johnson-Cosby, president of Kansas City's Regional Housing Alliance, said the moratorium does not solve the problem.

"There are housing providers who would have to go up to 15 months without a rent payment and we know that's not sustainable," Johnson-Cosby said. "On the other side of that, which people are not looking at, which they need to pay attention to, is that the fact at the end of it, the tenant will now have thousands of dollars in past due rent. It comes due all at once."

Instead, the alliance is fighting for more rental assistance programs and funding to help tenants and landlords.

Those seeking rent and utility assistance can visit the KC Relief website.