Kansas City tenants, landlords seeking swift solutions as Biden extends eviction moratorium

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Biden administration has extended the moratorium on evictions for another month, giving people who can’t pay their rent due to the pandemic more time to make other arrangements and get government assistance.

The eviction moratorium was set to expire June 30. The extension now delays that until July 31, but this extension will be the last one, Biden said.

From chaining themselves to the Jackson County Courthouse doors to demonstrating in front of judges homes, tenant rights group KC Tenants has been protesting evictions since the start of the pandemic.

“It is a relief, but it’s just kicking the can down the road,” KC Tenants member Tiana Caldwell said of the latest extension. “It’s delaying the inevitable.”

Caldwell, who has experienced an eviction, acknowledged the moratorium is temporary and said federal and local governments need to do more to protect tenants now and in the future.

“At this point it’s between, if not more than $5,000 to $10,000 in debt or more because people have not been able to pay their rent and all its been doing is accumulating,” Caldwell said. “There needs to be something done about the way that assistance is being distributed.”

Landlord Stacey Johnson-Cosby said there are billions of dollars available to help tenants affected by the pandemic.

“We won’t worry about the evictions if we can keep the tenants in place and get the rent paid,” she said. “Too much energy is being spent on eviction moratoriums when that’s not our concern.”

Johnson-Cosby has experienced a four- to six-week delay to even find out if a case worker has been assigned to a claim, which puts tenants and landlords thousands of additional dollars behind. She said a quick solution to streamlining the process is necessary to avoid a flood of evictions Aug. 1.

“Getting the rent paid helps everyone,” Johnson-Cosby said. “It helps the tenants stay securely housed. It also helps the housing providers be able to pay their mortgage and other debts to maintain the property.”

Caldwell is also concerned about what will happen on Aug. 1 when the final extension expires.

“We already had a bunch of trouble with how to help our homeless while they were out here this summer, and then we just got a fix on that,” she said. “What do we do when we add thousands or millions more to them?”

Johnson-Cosby’s organization, KC Regional Housing Alliance, has been providing resources for people needing government rental assistance. Tenants’ debts are passed along to landlords, who have often been portrayed as the villains.

“The landlords are absolutely not the villains,” she said. “We need the tenants as much as the tenants need us, so it is a mutual relationship. Whatever we can do to help them ultimately helps us.”

KC Regional Housing Alliance is partnering with the United Way to help people who have an eviction judgement find housing in the future. The following websites have information about this and other programs to help people avoid eviction and landlords pay their bills.

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