KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Election Day brought an important victory for people who need affordable housing and the advocates trying to get more of it in Kansas City.
Voters approved a $50 million bond that will be used to help build what it calls “deeply affordable” units. That means they’ll be between $550-750 or equal to or less than 30% of the area median income.
It’s the largest commitment to affordable housing in Kansas City history, and advocates said the key was making sure it created units that are truly affordable.
“A rent increase above someone’s means is essentially an eviction notice,” said KC Tenants Power’s Wilson Vance.
She would know.
Before Vance campaigned to get the bond passed Tuesday, she was forced to find a new place to live in 2019.
“The same month that KC Tenants had our first meeting, I was actively getting priced out of my home of 10 years and looking for somewhere else to live,” Vance said.
The bond will be used to help finance housing projects that will keep rent to the levels that will be affordable for more people and give them a stable place to live.
It comes at a time when downtown Kansas City sees rent continue to increase. Some luxury apartments start at $1,500-2,000 for a one-bedroom apartment. Even smaller projects in historic parts of town end up pricing longtime neighbors out of their own homes.
“It’s a big deal because there isn’t enough affordable housing in Kansas City, Missouri,” Kansas City Director of Housing and Community Development Jane Brown said.
She said that influences where these deeply affordable projects can go.
“We know where affordable housing can be built,” Brown said. “You mentioned downtown, maybe not downtown, but could it be 10 minutes from downtown? Sure.”
Vance said the key is using the largest investment in affordable housing in city history where it can help the most.
“Fifty million is a really good start,” Vance said. “I mean that’s going to create thousands of truly affordable units, and that’s nothing to sneeze at. But it won’t fix the housing crisis alone.”
Brown said the city will start taking applications for the new $50 million next year.
They are still closing out the application process for the money already in the Housing Trust Fund. The deadline to apply for that funding was just extended to Tuesday, Nov. 15.