How Kansas City is battling the eviction crisis

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Evictions are becoming a growing problem in the U.S.

Studies show that due to the pandemic, 30-40 million Americans are at risk of eviction.

Friday in Blue Springs, an eviction turned violent.

“Well, you don’t want to think that someone had to get shot,” Roberta Stark, a neighbor, said. 

Court deputies had shown up to enforce a court-ordered eviction at Northwest Fourth Street and Westchester Court in Blue Springs Friday morning.

The deputies encountered 38-year-old Donald Smith. Smith brandished a rifle and deputies shot him in the abdomen.

According to police, Smith is in stable condition.

Ameerah Sanders with KC Tenants said every eviction is an act of violence.

“So where do you want these people to go,” Sanders said. “Are they not also citizens? Are they not also human beings worthy of protection?”

KC Tenants have blocked courthouse doors for weeks to stop evictions. Their goal is to see zero evictions happen this month. 

“Of yesterday’s action we’ve stopped over 250 evictions.” Sanders said. 

Mayor Quinton Lucas has called on all four counties to extend their eviction moratorium through at least June of 2021. 

He said, the City is working to keep Kansas Citians in their homes by connecting them to resources that they need. 

“It’s important to not just have resources, but you have to make sure the folks on the streets know about them,” Lucas said. “Making sure that we know that those are available.”

It’s not just the evictions that have raised concerns. Kansas City’s winter weather has proven to be deadly for those without shelter.

Last week two homeless men died due to the cold weather. 

KC Tenants said, clearing homeless camps is what contributes to these deaths.

“You’re going to make homeless people by removing them from their homes from evictions,” Sanders said. “Then when they try to come together find a place to shelter together, you’re going to remove them from that space as well. So where do you want these people to go?” 

Mayor Lucas said he is working on solutions. This year the city has given $8.5 million towards helping the homeless and those facing eviction.

They have also set up a contract with a motel where anyone who is homeless can quarantine if they are exposed to the coronavirus.

Lucas said, although they’ve made strides, they still have a long way to go.

“We recognize we have lots of work to do,” Lucas said. “But I think those have been the steps thus far that the City’s taken to address that issue.”

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