More relief coming to help those in Kansas City struggling to pay rent

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – More help is coming from Kansas City renters in need.

The Emergency Rental and Utilities Assistance Program ended on Tuesday. However, city leaders tell FOX4 a second round of relief funding is due in September.

Kansas City leaders said the current round of relief money has all the applicants it can handle for now.

That program, which was introduced in March, has a second wave of relief money en route from the federal government, after shelling out nearly $15 million for rent and bills people couldn’t pay.

Critics of Kansas City’s Emergency Rental and Utility Assistance Program state they knew the end of the first round was coming. A city spokesperson said roughly 7,000 people signed up for assistance via that program.

“These programs like rental assistance have been like band-aids over bullet wounds,” Magda Werkmeister, a spokesperson for KC Tenants, said. “We’ve always said rental assistance isn’t an effective program.”

Werkmeister said her nonprofit has asked for long-term programs to help renters who can’t pay their rent or utilities due to the pandemic, and despite the city’s moratorium on evictions, people are still losing their homes.

“We’re kind of sick of reacting to all the terrible things that have happened during COVID,” Werkmeister said.
“We think tenants shouldn’t have to fight so hard to stay in their homes. It’s a matter of life and death for a lot of folks.”

City officials expect a second round of relief money this September. For the time being, the city is referring new applicants to apply for aid from programs at the Missouri level.

Maggie Green, a Kansas City spokesperson, said the city has already worked with utility companies and countless landlords to keep renters in place.

“We had an overwhelming response,” Green said. “We are encouraging the landlords to be involved, and to not evict people while the moratorium is in place, and to work fast to make sure the processing goes through to make sure tenants can remain in place.”

Missouri’s State Assistance for Housing Relief program received roughly $327 million from the federal level, meant to help renters in dire straits.

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