KC Tenants launches new political organization
Since its inception in 2019, KC Tenants has drafted a Tenants’ Bill of Rights and won its adoption by City Council. The group successfully lobbied for people facing eviction to have the right to legal representation. Its members have fought against evictions during the pandemic and opposed development agreements that neglect affordable housing.
Now, members of the prominent tenants’ union want to show collective political strength.
“Kansas City’s history is corruption,” KC Tenants leader Diane Charity said at a rally in Ilus Davis Park to announce the launch of KC Tenants Power. The group will focus on issues of education and building political influence.
“It’s a story of redlining, displacement, evictions, homelessness,” Charity continued. “It’s closed schools, violence, cracked sidewalks, crumbling infrastructure, errands I can’t afford, sirens day and night. No work for my grandchildren. No houses for my friends.
The new KC Tenants Power’s top priority is convincing Kansas City voters to support Question 2 in the Nov. 8 general election ballot in Missouri. This would allow the city to issue up to $50 million in general bond funding over the next five years for a housing trust fund to increase the supply of affordable housing in the city. town.
In support of Issue 2, KC Tenants Power has pledged to engage in one of the largest door-to-door operations Kansas City has ever seen. The group also said it would hold public listening sessions to hear residents’ priorities on housing, policing, transportation and other topics.
KC Tenants Power also said it intends to educate Kansas City residents about future election issues. The group plans to do endorsements in city council races, publish voter guides for the primary and general elections, and embark on another outreach program to speak with voters across the city.
“KC Tenants Power is run by tenants organizing to take back our city and house people,” Charity said.
KC tenants want more affordable housing
Although some landlords say KC Tenants has disrupted the rental market, the group has given voice to hundreds of Kansas citizens struggling with poverty and housing instability. Its leaders have also helped homeless people form a homeless union.
Yet as rents continue to rise and wages stagnate, many Kansas citizens live in fear of losing their homes. According to Zero KC, the city’s new action plan to end homelessness, more than 41,000 renters earn 30% or less of the area’s median income, but are short about 17,000 extremely affordable housing units.
“I keep seeing developers come to my neighborhood and build shiny new buildings,” Denise Brown, a KC Tenants leader, said at the rally. “I think, where the hell are they planning to take us?”
In August, the Kansas City Council made the controversial decision to change the Affordable Housing Ordinance for Developer Incentives to attract more developers. Previously, developers were required to make 10% of new developments extremely affordable, meaning households earned 30% of the region’s median income.
The requirement for extremely affordable housing has been eliminated. Instead, 20% of housing must now be affordable for households earning 60% of the median income, or nearly $1,200 per month for a one-bedroom apartment.
“Our city’s leaders seem so desperate to copy the model of other cities, and it’s going to be our downfall,” said Daj Moreland, a leader who spoke at the rally.
“People in these rooms make decisions that literally kill us. And then they make us pay for it.