KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) - Housing advocates are preparing for a tsunami of evictions. This comes as Cares Act benefits run out this week and tenants will soon have to pay rent again.
Before the pandemic, the tenant KCTV5 News spoke to had never fallen behind on her rent. She did not share her name, but she did share her story.
“You still have to pay your rent each month, you still have to pay utilities each month and when your income is cut in half, last month my income was cut 70%,” she said.
It’s a familiar story for many across our region. A statewide survey found at least 48% of Missouri renters are at risk of eviction.
“I have not faced eviction yet, but it's definitely a fear of mine,” the tenant said.
KC Tenants, an affordable housing advocacy group, posted a tweet of a list of factors creating the perfect storm for what some say will be a tsunami of evictions.
We are on the brink of a massive eviction and homelessness crisis:✴️5/31: Jackson County eviction moratorium expired✴️6/1: Evictions began in person and by conference call✴️7/24: Federal eviction moratorium expired✴️7/31: Expanded unemployment expires✴️8/1: Rent is due— KC Tenants (@KCTenants) July 28, 2020
Bans on evictions federally and locally have ended. The Cares Act unemployment benefits end this week.
“In this community, we could see an upward of 50,000 people that could enter into homelessness because of COVID-19,” Community LINC CEO Precious Stargell Cushman said.
Cushman’s organization supports people experiencing homelessness and offers rental and utility assistance, she has seen a big increase in need.
“We have to come together as a community first of all, basically what we need to be doing is offering modest amounts of relief to people and what I mean by that is we have formed an organization called kcrelief.org,” Cushman said.
As a long-term solution, Cushman says local and federal leaders must focus on expanding affordable housing options. But for now, tenants are using options like kcrelief.org to get immediate help to make ends meet.
“If it wasn't for these community agencies, there would be a whole lot hurting much more than we are right now, so I’m so thankful,” the tenant said.