LTE: Affordable Housing

On Wed., May 23, I attended (along with about 50 other individuals) the third of the City’s planned meetings to discuss the future of housing in Kansas City. I came prepared to discuss the issues below, but the City restricted comments to four question prompts we weren’t supplied with ahead of time. Housing issues are important to all of the City, but I think especially to the Northeast community. I was disappointed that the meeting seemed to be more of a check-box exercise as opposed to a discussion about the actual needs of residents throughout Kansas City.

I attended the meeting to advocate for the importance of affordable housing, which myself and the rest of the Indian Mound Neighborhood Association board view as a basic human right. Given Kansas City’s public housing waiting list is currently more than 4,000, and the federal voucher waiting list is at more than 9,500, we believe the city is failing in their duty to ALL of its citizens.

Indian Mound is home to about 11,000 people in approximately 3,350 households. The median household income is $28,000. Indian Mound is one of the few places left in the city where some residents are lucky enough to spend 1/3 of their income – or approximately $600 per month – on housing. But that is quickly changing.
When looking at housing, the City has lumped residents into “income bands.” The city has put residents who make $25,000 a year on par with those who make $35,000, and the City classify affordable to this group as $875 per month – which is detrimental for residents who fall at the lower end of that wide spectrum. That’s $275 that could be spent on necessities like food or healthcare. We’d like the city to reconsider these income brackets, especially toward the lower end where a few numbers make a huge difference. (After the May 23 meeting, the City Council voted unanimously to define affordable housing as $1,100 per month.)

One of the City’s stated goals in its housing policy is an emphasis on revitalizing aging neighborhoods by supporting rehabilitation and construction of housing in those areas. We’d encourage the city to stop subsidizing luxury developments that claim a $1,600 one bedroom apartment is affordable, and instead focus that money on this goal of rehabbing current homes or building more low-income housing in areas like Indian Mound.

New construction in Indian Mound is complicated. We have 60 vacant lots in Land Bank right now, but half of those lots can’t be built on because of zoning restrictions due to the small size of the lots. The first step to help infill these lots is for the city to make it easier to change zoning en masse to encourage the building of small, affordable homes.

In addition to new construction, Indian Mound has an aging and neglected housing stock. We currently have 104 registered vacant houses in various states of disrepair. We’ve had good luck utilizing the Abandoned Housing Act with the help of Legal Aid to connect qualified rehabbers with homes that they can fix up and live in. We’d love for the city to provide funds to help make rehabilitation of dilapidated property an option for people with the skills to do that work.

Our final request is for the city to look into ordinances that limit the number of properties that can be owned by out-of-state LLCs. We regularly find that our most troubled properties are “managed” by companies multiple states away, without many options for recourse by the tenants or neighbors when things go wrong. We also see these out-of-state organizations buying homes in the tax sale, sight unseen, with no intention of fixing them up but instead waiting for housing values to rise so they can sell the home and get some ROI. This contributes to the blight in our neighborhood and takes homes away from people who would become valued community members and neighbors.

I look forward to seeing an affordable housing plan that protects our current residents and maintains Kansas City’s image as an affordable place to live.

–Beth Beavers
Indian Mound resident

Comments are closed.

  • LTE: Who would you rather help?

    November 14th, 2018
    by

    Recently, a Northeast family with a young child and an infant on the way was hit with a series of […]


    LTE: Farm Bill would impact SNAP benefits

    November 14th, 2018
    by

    Every five years, our federal legislators take on the task of renewing the Farm Bill, a hundreds-of-billions-of-dollars piece of law […]


    Reflecting on my time at the Northeast News

    October 10th, 2018
    by

    Paul Thompson Northeast News A decade covering news in Kansas City will leave a wealth of memories. Many of you […]


    LTE: Reader enjoys Northeast News content

    October 10th, 2018
    by

    Born and raised in Northeast, I love and support the Northeast News. This weeks September 19th edition highlighted Mr. Publisher […]


    LTE: Cartoon brushes aside important issues

    September 19th, 2018
    by

    I was dismayed by the “Retorts Illustrated” cartoon by Bryan Stalder in the 9/12 edition of Northeast News. Mr. Stalder […]


  • LTE: Where’s the compassion?

    August 29th, 2018
    by

    Even tho I often disagree with ole Bunny, I totally agree with her on her recent opinion, “City Services Get […]


    LTE: Opinions Based on Facts Are Far More Useful

    August 29th, 2018
    by

    In a community that so often operates on rumors, I think it is useful to have opinions based on fact. […]


    LTE: Cartoon was in poor taste

    August 15th, 2018
    by

    I can understand the quality of cartoons in a free neighborhood newspaper can clear a fairly low bar. Predictably, Mr. […]


    LTE: Virginia resident loves community journalism

    August 15th, 2018
    by

    I just wanted to express my deepest admiration for the Northeast News and your dedication to serving your community. I […]


    LTE: Democracy Demands Participation

    July 31st, 2018
    by

    Democracy Demands Participation. That’s why it’s important to vote in this summer’s primary election on August 7th and this fall’s […]


  • Local Weather

  • What’s Happening

    Holiday Puppy Party at the North-East Library

    Dorri Partain Northeast News The Northeast Library teamed up with KC Pet Project for last Sunday’s Holiday Puppy Party.  Participants […]

    Operation Santa kicks off today at Della Lamb, serving over 1,000 local residents

    This project will serve over 1,000 low-income families, giving them all the items needed for a full Christmas.

    Congressman Cleaver announces $25 million grant to improve Buck O’Neil Bridge

    The Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant will include creating a wider bridge span, separated facilities for pedestrians bicyclists, and connector ramps.