KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Issues with affordable housing in Kansas City took center stage at a meeting held with city leaders on Wednesday evening.
The meeting, one of several involving feedback from the public, came as the city continues to put together a five-year housing policy.
Beth Beavers, who lives in the Indian Mound neighborhood, attended the meeting and said more must be done to address affordable housing needs in the area.
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“We are a working-class neighborhood. The median income here is about $28,000,” explained Beavers, who serves on the Indian Mound Neighborhood Association. “We think affordable housing would be somebody paying about $600 a month for rent which is near impossible to do around here.”
Beavers told 41 Action News that her neighborhood continues to be home to minority and refugee families.
However, she believes the area could change in the years ahead due to a number of issues.
“We’re seeing a lot of rents going up. We’re seeing values of properties going up,” she explained. “We have a lot of vacant property. We have a lot of empty property.”
Beavers added that a lack of affordable housing has also led to homelessness in her neighborhood.
As a result of all the issues, she said families in the area were experiencing all sorts of challenges.
“If you’re spending half of your income on your housing that means you don’t have money to pay for groceries, that means you don’t have money to pay for healthcare,” she explained. “That could mean a meal that you’re going to go without. That could mean your kids going without meals or eviction. (Evictions) are impacting kids because they’re switching around schools. That presents this unstable situation.”
Beavers was joined by dozens of others on Wednesday evening for the meeting at Samuel Rodgers Health Center.
City leaders, including Assistant City Manager John Wood, heard comments and issues from residents in regards to affordable housing.
Wood told 41 Action News that the event served as a chance for the city to address housing needs while formulating a five-year housing policy.
“We’re trying to get ahead of the curve as best as we can,” he explained. “What we’re attempting to do is be very strategic and thoughtful on how we come up with strategies and resources to help us stay ahead of the curve.”
With more hotels and apartments continuing to emerge downtown, Wood said it was important for the city to keep a focus on affordable housing.
“There is a big gap between what people can afford to pay and what the actual cost of housing is,” he explained. “I think there’s a lot of demand for housing but at the same time we have a dearth of units of affordable housing.”
Moving forward, Beth Beavers hoped the city could improve the issue to help continue to make neighborhoods like Indian Mound feel like home.
“Kansas City has a reputation for being affordable,” she explained. “I think we want to maintain that.”
The city plans to hold two more meetings involving feedback from the public on affordable housing in June.
The meetings will be held June 4th at the Westport/Roanoke Community Center and on June 18th at the Second Presbyterian Church on East 55th Street.