City Council passes KC Tenants Bill of Rights Package

 

The Kansas City City Council passed the KC Tenants Bill of Rights package 12-1 in Thursday’s legislative session.

KC Tenants is an organization working to “ensure that everyone in Kansas City has a safe, healthy, accessible, and truly affordable home.”

They have outlined a People’s Housing Platform that lists ten specific problems facing tenants in Kansas City: affordability, eviction, access, health, abusive and unaccountable landlords, speculation and vacancy, demolition, homelessness, gentrification and displacement, and racial inequity.

According to a report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom in Kansas City is $869.

The hourly rate an individual would need to make to afford FMR for a two-bedroom is $16.

An individual earning minimum wage would need to work 92 hours a week, or 2.3 full-time jobs in order to afford a two-bedroom.

KC Tenants drafted a Tenant Bill of Rights package that includes a resolution and an ordinance.

KC Tenants asked the council to pass the two together and fully fund them to ensure implementation and enforcement.

The resolution aims to enforce existing tenant rights and lists additional protections including the right to organize, protection from retaliation, not passing permit fees to tenants, limits on security deposits, written tenant consent and notification before landlord entry, disclosure about past issues in the unit and a utilities estimate, and the right to receive a Tenant Bill of Rights document before the start of each tenancy.

The ordinance would establish a Rental Housing Assistance Unit within a new Division of Housing and Community Development to educate tenants of their rights and resources, operate a Rental Housing Hotline, establish a Rental Housing Center, and publish a regularly-updated Tenant Bill of Rights Document enumerating legal protections.

The Division would work with the Health Department to ensure freedom from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, mental or physical disability, marital status, familial status, age sexual orientation or gender identity, gender expression, ethnic background, being a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, source of income, arrest and conviction history, or rental history.

At a recent council session, Kathleen Pointer, senior communications and policy strategist for Kansas City Public Schools, said KCPS stood in support of the KC Tenants’ package.

“Housing instability and evictions are traumas that impact many KCPS students and their families,” she said. “Students show up with higher rates of social and emotional distress which becomes an impediment to learning. Think about it. How can a student show up at school ready to learn when they haven’t had a safe place to sleep that night? How can a student thrive when they are moving from school to school to school in just one academic year?”

Gina Chiala, executive director and staff attorney for the Heartland Center for Jobs and Freedom also stood in support of KC Tenants.

“We are on the front lines of the eviction crisis,” she said. “You can find us every week down in eviction court where four courtrooms are simultaneously undertaking hundreds of eviction cases. We see the issues that are raised in these ordinances on a regular basis. Discrimination based on eviction records keep people homeless chronically for years.”

A homeless member of KC Tenants gave testimony that brought him to tears as he spoke about the difficulty in finding housing because of his criminal record.

“I got out of prison on August 9 and on August 10 I became homeless,” he said. “I don’t have a place to live so I park from place to place. I can’t get a place because everybody discriminates against me because I was locked up. I thought I paid my debt to society, but I guess I didn’t. I get reconvicted every time I try to go and get a place to live and it takes away my dignity. I used to be somebody. I’m being reduced every night that I have to move again and again and again.”

 

Source of income and right to counsel were not included in the package and leaders of KC Tenants say they will be working to move forward to give Kansas City tenants further protection.

Jenay Manley, a leader with KC Tenants said there is still work to do.

“We are going to build a plan. We are going to find out what we want to do to bring those people back into the conversation and look for ways to make sure we are protected. We definitely are not done here. We have more to do.”

Overall, Manley said the win was for everyone.

“I feel like we did something. We just made history. I’ve never felt so great.”

 

 

To listen to a full podcast with KC Tenants, click here.

 

 

Want Northeast News articles sent straight to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
Enter your email address and click on the Get Instant Access button.
We respect your privacy

Comments are closed.

  • Police search for PH Coffee robber

    22 hours ago
    by

    PH Coffee, 2200 Lexington, was robbed on Aug. 1, 2020, and police are asking for the public’s help identifying a […]


    Victim dies from Saturday 12th and Lawndale shooting

    23 hours ago
    by

    The victim of an Aug. 1 shooting at 12th and Lawndale has died from his injuries, according to police. The […]


    Información sobre pruebas gratuitas de COVID-19

    August 5th, 2020
    by

    Daisy Garcia Montoya Editorial Assistant La ciudad de Kansas City, Missouri, está ofreciendo pruebas gratuitas de COVID-19 en diferentes sitios […]


    Local priest involved in Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph Lawsuit

    August 5th, 2020
    by

    Daisy Garcia Montoya Editorial Assistant A priest who served at Holy Cross Catholic Church on St. John Avenue is involved […]


    RideKC opens new East Village Transit Center

    August 5th, 2020
    by

    Abby Hoover Managing Editor The new Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) East Village Transit Center at 12th and Charlotte […]


    Unofficial Results: Aug. 4 Primary Election

    August 4th, 2020
    by

    At 10:08 p.m., Jackson County had 136 of its 136 precincts fully reporting, and at 11:42 p.m., Kansas City had […]


    Man gets 40 years for killing teen outside mosque in 2014

    August 4th, 2020
    by

    Today a Jackson County judge sentenced Ahmed Aden, 40, to 40 years in prison for killing a 15-year-old Somali boy […]


    Mattie Rhodes Center Summer Youth Programming Underway

    August 4th, 2020
    by

    Mattie Rhodes Center’s (MRC) youth programming has officially started for this summer. New health guidelines released by the local government […]


  • City plans Landlord and Tenant University as eviction moratorium expires

    August 4th, 2020
    by

    The Neighborhood and Housing Services Department of Kansas City, along with facilitators from Legal Aid of Western Missouri will hold […]


    COVID-19 impacts parks staff and operations

    July 31st, 2020
    by

    The Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department is feeling the impact of COVID-19. With parks being utilized at an unprecedented […]


    August 4 Election Cheat Sheet

    July 30th, 2020
    by

    Jackson County Prosecutor & Jackson County Sheriff Missouri Senate District 9, 11, Missouri House District 23 Missouri House District 19, […]


    Library tackles COVID-19 myths

    July 29th, 2020
    by

    By Lucas Cuni-Mertz The Kansas City Public Library will be hosting a discussion tonight at 6:30 p.m. tackling myths surrounding […]


    Back the Blue rally meets protesters at KCPD HQ

    July 29th, 2020
    by

    Supporters of the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department (KCPD) gathered outside the department’s downtown headquarters Tuesday evening. Across the street, […]


    Charges filed in fatal Northeast beating

    July 29th, 2020
    by

    A Kansas City man is being charged for a fatal beating of a Northeast man on June 15, 2020 at […]


    Back To School 2020

    July 29th, 2020
    by

    Want Northeast News articles sent straight to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!Enter your email address and click on the […]


    Violent crime uptick draws community attention

    July 29th, 2020
    by

    Michael Bushnell Publisher Roughly thirty Independence Avenue stakeholders and community members met Thursday, July 23, at the offices of the […]


  • Want articles sent directly to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
    We respect your privacy and will not distribute your information.