Evictions spread as housing prices soar

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Rising housing costs have more people facing eviction.

The Jackson County court docket is filled with eviction cases on what some call "Eviction Thursday."

According to the Kansas City Eviction Project, an average of 42 evictions are filed every business day in Jackson County.

Not being able to afford a place to live breeds frustration that can boil over into violence.

Just last week, police say a man pointed a handgun at a sheriff's deputy who was trying to evict him at a home on the city's east side. The deputy fired a shot before getting out of the house. After a two-hour standoff the renter eventually surrendered peacefully to police.

Those who try to help tenants avoid eviction say a full-time, minimum wage worker no longer can afford a two-bedroom apartment in any county of the United States.

"Rents have gone up quite a bit, exponentially," said Diane Charity of the Kansas City Eviction Project. "This is the other painful thing about that. A lot of times when we get on a landlord, or make them aware their houses are not up to par, they may go ahead and make them up to par, but then they increase the rent by $100 a month."

A study of the last 17 years of Jackson County court data by the Kansas City Eviction Project shows evictions had been concentrated in the poorest neighborhoods but now are spreading to all areas of the city.

The group says race still is the most important factor in determining whether someone will be evicted. The study shows blacks are much more likely to lose their homes.

Affordable housing advocates claim 12-million households across the country now spend more than half of their wages on housing. Half of all Americans spend more than 30 percent of their income just on rent and utilities.