KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In a matter of days some renters will face eviction because they can’t pay their landlords.
Since mid-March no one in Jackson County has been evicted. However, starting on June 1, that will change as the county’s eviction moratorium lifts.
“I don’t know how my landlord expects to get rent, and quite frankly I don’t know how my landlord expects to pay her mortgage,” renter Ashley Johnson said.
KC Tenants, a housing advocacy group, met with Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas on Thursday. They’re hoping for an extension on the moratorium, options for the unhoused and legal funding for people facing evictions.
“We believe that the mayor and City Council should use CARES Act funds to insist property owners to fully cancel rent payments and/or forgive all debts since the beginning of March and extending through the next six months,” organizer Tara Raghuveer said.
Leaders say change isn’t so simple.
Lucas said funding is being scrutinized during the pandemic, and it has to be approved. However, he said he’s committed to getting money to those in need once they can — and soon.
“I’ll call a special city council meeting next week because nobody’s going on vacation, to actually — if we receive this money — to pass the necessary ordinances to get it out on the streets,” Lucas said. “To make sure that we’re actually doing things to expand services for unhoused people.”
The 16th Circuit Court of Jackson County, which handles evictions, said there are about 53 evictions moving forward at the first of the month. These evictions were already set in motion prior to the pandemic.
However, Thursday also marked the first date landlord tenant meetings resumed in person at the Jackson County Courthouse.
The court said numbers for evictions did drop in April, but it couldn’t say the pandemic was the cause. However, they did say more than one landlord had called, not realizing they could file evictions during this time.
“There will be a lot of people who are getting evicted today, tomorrow, the next day, Monday off, and then Tuesday, and then all of that,” Lucas said. “That’s what happens when we don’t act.”
Lucas said actions he could work on immediately would be to extend the utilities moratorium, along with calling an emergency city council meeting to discuss getting funding allocated for renters in need.
KC Tenants suggested using funds to turn vacant houses throughout the city into housing for those who are evicted and homeless. Lucas agreed this would be something of interest.