KC Tenants announced eight demands the housing rights group wants the city to act on to prevent evictions and homelessness.
The organization made the announcement Saturday morning at Manual Career Technical High School, where a city rental assistance information session was taking place.
Harvey Nash, a member of KC Tenants who was served with an eviction notice last week at his apartment in south Kansas City, read off the eight proposals which include using COVID-19 relief funds for affordable housing, implementing rent increase caps of 2% every two years and releasing weekly reports on how much money is being distributed through the rental assistance program.
KC Tenants called on City Manager Brian Platt to meet with the group to discuss their demands.
In an April 2021 report released by Apartment Guide, Kansas City had the largest increase in rent of the 100 largest cities in the nation for one-bedroom units, jumping 33.5% since March of last year.
An estimated 2,000 people are homeless in Kansas City.
Nash experienced homelessness for about four years.
“I walked these streets not knowing where the hell I was going to sleep at night,” he said.
“We know our solutions — think of people first. That’s why we want to meet with Brian Platt.”
KC Tenants said low wages, the COVID-19 pandemic, and access to transportation and WiFi all present housing challenges.
Ernesta Coulbourne has been houseless in Kansas City since May.
“The city should dream big about how we can help our hurting families and tenants,” she said. “Better organization and collaboration with people like us would provide people with real assistance. If we don’t take on the solutions we have proposed, our communities will only hurt more. People will become more desperate, homelessness will continue to rise and our communities will continue to suffer. It doesn’t have to be this way. We all have a right to safe and affordable housing.”
On Saturday afternoon, Platt told KC Tenants he was open to meeting with them.
“Some of these items are already in progress and others will require additional discussion,” he wrote to them in an email. “My team and I are happy to meet at your convenience.”
Earlier this month, the city opened a rental assistance center to help tenants apply for emergency rent and utility assistance. Maggie Green, spokeswoman for the city manager’s office, said the center has helped 114 residents apply for assistance and had 22 appointments scheduled on Saturday.
Green said the city council is discussing longer term solutions including a housing trust fund. Officials are also moving forward with a request for proposals that would re-purpose unused facilities for housing and work with private developers to include more affordable housing units in new developments.