TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas’ eviction moratorium is set to expire, which could leave many Kansans without a place to stay.
The ban was extended until the governor’s State of Emergency order ends. The state’s Legislative Coordinating Council will meet Friday morning to decide whether to extend the order.
This comes as the state and nation are facing what some state housing officials have called a “housing crisis.” Up to 40 million Americans could be at risk, according to the Aspen Institute.
“We’ve got to get a handle on the crisis that we’re facing at the state and national level,” said Ryan Vincent, executive director of Kansas Housing Corp. “We’ve got to fund housing to address our housing problem.”
Vincent said he’s seen an increase in home prices and housing needs during the pandemic. His organization is responsible for distributing relief funds through the state’s KERA program, Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance.
To date, 4,038 applications have been completed. 167 applications have been funded with more than $1 million going out to people in need.
Housing officials are also conducting a statewide housing survey, the first comprehensive assessment conducted in nearly 30 years, to address the needs of Kansans in dire situations.
“That’s everything from ensuring equity, that everyone can access loans, and financing for their homes,” Vincent said.
Vincent acknowledged that affordable housing has been an issue in the state.
One advocacy group, Rent Zero Kansas, has been vocal about the need to help low-income Kansans that are still being evicted, facing utility shut offs, or don’t qualify for rental assistance.
In a press release, Vince Munoz, an organizer for the activist group, pointed to a public dashboard released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, comparing emergency rental assistance programs across the country.
Kansas’ rental program is not among the states listed in the dashboard that provide assistance directly to tenants. Munoz noted told Kansas Capitol Bureau on Thursday that this could create a problem for renters, who are also instructed to apply for assistance with their landlords through a joint-online process. According to the KERA website, if the application is approved, the landlord or service provider receives funds directly from KERA and applies KERA funds to the applicant’s account.
“The Kansas Housing Resources Corporation should follow the 75 other programs nationwide in sending relief directly to renters. This would help prevent landlords from arbitrarily declining rent payments from assistance, which we’ve seen happen recently in Manhattan.”Vince Munoz, Rent Zero Kansas
According to the advocacy group, In late January, Manhattan tenants Alice Nondorf and her fiancé, Gary LaBarge, were evicted despite each being eligible for more than $5,000 in rental assistance. Their landlord, Rodney Steven III, whose family also owns Genesis Fitness Clubs, declined to accept the assistance.
Vincent with the state’s housing corp said the goal of the survey is to collect information from community members and stakeholders to identify the current housing needs.
To access the statewide housing survey, click here.