KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Renting an apartment in Kansas City could soon be more affordable.
The Kansas City Council is considering a new rule that would require developers who get tax breaks to offer a portion of their units at a reduced rate based on a family’s income.
Industry website Rent Cafe says the average rent in Kansas City is more than $1,000. There are many people throughout the community still suffering from the financial impacts of the pandemic, causing what some say is a housing crisis.
At the same time, the city is giving tax breaks or incentives to developers like Cordish and Mac Properties to name a few.
But now, 3rd District Councilwoman Melissa Robinson has introduced legislation that would require developers who receive tax breaks or incentives from the city to offer 20% of their units at a lower rate based on income. Policies like this are a common in similarly sized cities.
“What is the greater good of the city at this point? We are hurting for affordable housing,” Robinson said. “There are people that are dying on the street right now who are experiencing homelessness. There are people that have been evicted.”
The income levels would be determined by HUD’s Median Family Income scale. In Kansas City, the median family income is rounded to $86,000.
Those who make 70% of the MFI would qualify for an affordable unit. Affordable units would have rent capped at $1,500. People who make less than 30% of the MFI could get an extremely affordable unit for $645.
Fourth District Councilman Eric Bunch said this is a necessary step.
“It’s a start, and it’s a place we can build off of,” Bunch said. ”We will see where it will end next week, but I’m confident we can get the votes to do something.”
Fourth District At-Large Councilwoman Katheryn Shields said she supports affordable housing but wanted to delay the vote on the ordinance another week. She said she has been hearing concerns from developers.
“I have had an influx of letters in the last couple of days that I had not received before,” Shields said.
Robinson said it’s unfair to continue to give developers tax breaks without asking for a return on the city’s investment.
“If they’re going to want tax subsidies to do this, they have to be willing to solve some of the problems,” Robinson said.
The ordinance also says developers who do not want to follow this would have the option to pay 110% of the cost to create the same number of affordable housing units elsewhere. That money would go into the city’s Housing Trust Fund.
The City Council will meet again next Thursday to vote on this. If you want to give your thoughts on the ordinance, reach out to your city council person.