Kansas City committee moves affordable housing ordinance forward, dozens of renters respond in outrage

Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 7:56 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Kansas City’s Neighborhood, Planning and Development Committee is moving forward one of Mayor Quinton Lucas’ newly proposed affordable housing ordinances.

On Wednesday, the vote was met with outrage. Around 75 members of KC Tenants filled the council chamber in city hall. Many of them spoke out against the ordinance during public comment.

Ordinance 220700 would repeal the current “Affordable Housing Set Aside” ordinance and revise it.

As it stands now, developers must set aside 10% of units specifically as affordable housing for households making 70% of the average median income. They must also have to set aside another 10% for those making 30% of the AMI.

In the revision, it would require setting aside 20% of units as affordable housing for those at 60% of the AMI. In the plan, it says this requirement is consistent with the maximum definition of affordability in the housing trust fund.

During the committee meeting, KC Tenants members stressed that rent is too high. They also stressed that the revision of the set-aside ordinance would not be of any benefit to them as moderate- to low-income earners.

Mayor Lucas said in response that, while he hears the pleas of those spoke, the plan is about creating a mixture of affordable housing options across the city.

“I understand many of the imperfections of this proposal, I absolutely do. And, it doesn’t mean even supporting it or disagreeing or tweaking it. It doesn’t mean we don’t believe in creating more. But, for us, this is a step at least to creating more housing opportunity. And, ultimately, to get more units available to people at all income levels,” he said.

Those against this ordinance say it should be up to tenants to determine what’s affordable rather than developers.

A representative with Kansas City Public Schools asked the committee to hold off on the vote in order to give more time to review the ordinance.

One KC Tenants leader called the vote “scary.”

“I don’t see any relief coming anytime soon for people that are struggling to pay rent. That’s our biggest expense nowadays,” said Sabrina Davis with KC Tenants.

Davis said she splits $1,400 in rent with three other roommates and will be nearing the end of her lease in the coming months. She’s worried she’ll have a hard time finding a new place to stay due to these proposed plans.

The ordinance is expected to be voted on at Thursday’s full City Council meeting at 3 p.m.