KC Tenants rally at City Hall to ‘collect their check’

Elizabeth Orosco
Managing Editor

Members of KC Tenants gathered Wednesday morning, March 11, on the south steps of City Hall to discuss a proposal that would fully fund the Tenants Bill of Rights.

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

The Tenants Bill of Rights package, which included a resolution and an ordinance, passed 12-1 Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, and was signed into law Dec. 13, 2019. 

KC Tenants asked the council to pass the two together and fully fund them to ensure implementation and enforcement, however, zero funding was provided for the Tenants Bill of Rights in the FY 2020-2021 city budget that was released Feb. 13, 2020.

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.

After three public hearings on the city budget, in which members of KC Tenants attended and advocated for funding, no funds have been allocated for the Tenants Bill of Rights. 

“We cannot keep passing unfunded mandates,” said Jenay Manley, a leader with KC Tenants, at the Feb. 22, 2020 budget hearing. 

At the press conference Wednesday, leaders of KC Tenants discussed the importance of funding the Tenants Bill of Rights and what it means for the tenants who make up 48% of the city’s residents.

“I need to know that I have people who can advocate for me as a tenant when I don’t know how to advocate for myself,” said Skyler Whittaker. “I need the Mayor and the City Council to be accountable for fulfilling their promise to fully fund and implement the Tenants Bill of Rights. I need the leaders of our city to be committed to doing the right thing.”

“If we don’t fund the implementation of the Tenants Bill of Rights, if we don’t fund the outreach and education for our tenants in this city, if we don’t fund enforcement against bad actors, what will we have to do?” asked Kevin Jean-Paul, a leader with KC Tenants. “We are not here asking for funding for our organization. We are not here looking for jobs at City Hall. We are here to collect our check. And with that check, give that power back to the people. We are here and we aren’t going anywhere.”

Mayor Lucas responded in a recent statement, discussing recent work that has been done.

“The plan has always been to fight for as much funding as possible in year one for our Tenants Rights Package that was passed back in December. I think we’ve done an impressive job already finding hundreds of thousands of dollars for temporary rental assistance; we’re working to find hundreds of thousands [of] dollars more for legal assistance for those who face eviction; and hundreds of thousands of dollars more to make sure we can provide more teaching, education, and training about tenants’ rights—not just for tenants, but for landlords, as well. We’ve already made incredible strides in making sure Kansas City is a better place for tenants to live and I look forward to continuing this important work alongside our friends with KC Tenants.”

After the press conference, members of KC Tenants visited the Mayor’s office on the 29th floor of City Hall and presented a letter to his assistant asking Mayor Lucas to present feedback on the budget proposal and proposed language for a budget amendment to fund the implementation and enforcement of the Tenants Bill of Rights. 

KC Tenants plans to have a meeting with Mayor Lucas this week to determine budget amendments moving forward. 

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.

  • KCPS to distribute meals to students week of April 4

    11 hours ago

    Kansas City Public Schools is offering sack lunches for all KCPS students at certain times and locations next week (listed […]

    Kansas City pays $80k to house homeless experiencing COVID-19 symptoms

    April 3rd, 2020

    Elizabeth Orosco Managing Editor On Thursday, April 2, the Kansas City City Council unanimously approved a contract that would pay […]

    Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons Urges Missouri Governor to Issue Statewide “Shelter-in-Place” Order

    April 3rd, 2020

    (JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri) – Yesterday in a letter to Missouri Governor Mike Parson, MAOPS President Steven Brushwood, DO, FAAFP asked the Governor to […]

    Local Bank steps up to aid Shut-In Seniors

    April 3rd, 2020

    When the call went up from the Don Bosco Senior Center for help inreaching and feeding local senior citizens who […]

    First COVID-19 death confirmed in Kansas City

    April 2nd, 2020

    Kansas City, Missouri Director of Heath, Dr. Rex Archer, announced Thursday, April 2 the first confirmed COVID-19 death in the […]

  • Shelter KC seeking donations to aid homeless during stay-at-home order

    April 2nd, 2020

    Shelter KC is seeking donations to help serve the homeless during the stay-at-home order.

    Mayor Lucas outlines details on small business relief fund, who is eligible and how to apply

    April 1st, 2020

    Kansas City small businesses that need financial assistance during the COVID-19 stay-at-home order can now apply for a Kansas City […]

    KCPD members test positive for COVID-19

    April 1st, 2020

    Two KCPD members test positive for COVID-19.

    Small businesses adjust to shifting COVID-19 landscape

    March 31st, 2020

    Michael Bushnell Publisher For all intents and purposes, business at PH Coffee prior to the COVID-19 outbreak was good. The […]

    Missouri Foundation for Health Responds to COVID-19 Pandemic

    March 31st, 2020

    Courtney StewartMissouri Foundation for Health (ST. LOUIS, MO) – During this time of growing uncertainty, our commitment to improving the health and […]

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