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Can You Afford $1,100 A Month? That's Kansas City's New Definition Of Affordable Housing

Kevin Collison
KCUR 89.3
Units in the One Light apartment towers that rent for as much as $1,600 per month have been deemed affordable in connection with tax incentives. A new ordinance aims to change that.

Developers who ask for tax incentives in Kansas City can claim an apartment that rents for $1,600 a month is affordable — and eligible for incentives.

An ordinance passed by the Kansas City Council on Thursday changes that.

Councilman Quinton Lucas, who sponsored the measure, says he realized there was a problem when the council was discussing tax incentives for Cordish's Three Light project in March. There was no official guidance.  

The developer suggested they had affordable units priced up to $1,600 a month. 

"And then we learned from city staff that some measures say up to $2,000 a month can be affordable housing," Lucas says. 

The new ordinance, which will take effect in early June, defines affordable housing at 30 percent of the median income Kansas City, Missouri, around $1,100 a month.

“I realize that $1,000 a month is still pretty high for a lot of people, but what we’re trying to do is say that we will not give incentives based on affordability standards for units that are north of that figure,” Lucas says.

Tax incentives are awarded to developers based on a point system that includes environmental standards, whether the development will be in a blighted area, rehabilitating historic buildings and affordable housing. 

The measure also directs the city manager to give extra weight to housing developments with rents lower than $1,000 a month.

"While we're building new housing supply that's heavily subsisidized by the taxpayers, we're at least getting something out of it in terms of getting units that are more affordable for Kansas Citians," Lucas says. 

Lucas hopes this measure is just the first step; he'd prefer affordable housing be defined as closer to $700 to $800 a month. 

Lisa Rodriguez is a reporter and the aftrnoon newscaster for KCUR 89.3. Connect with her on Twitter @larodrig


Slow news days are a thing of the past. As KCUR’s news director, I want to cut through the noise, provide context to the headlines, and give you news you can use in your daily life – information that will empower you to make informed decisions about your neighborhood, your city and the region. Email me at lisa@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @larodrig.
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