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Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

As April's rent becomes due across the Kansas City metro, tenants face an uncertain legal landscape subject to the vagaries of the coronavirus and how soon its spread can be stopped.

That's been the case for tenants such as Erin White, who rents an apartment in Skyler Ridge, a 200-unit complex on 115th Street just west of Metcalf Avenue in Overland Park.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Coronavirus response in Wyandotte County

The Unified Government, representing one of the most diverse counties in Kansas and Missouri, faces some particular challenges in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Mayor/CEO Alvey acknowledged communication is a problem for his administration, but is proud of efforts to translate safety materials for the Spanish-speaking community. The mayor also discussed the stay at home order that went into effect yesterday, the economic hit to be sustained because of it and what happens in a post-pandemic recovery.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Coronavirus response in Wyandotte County

The Unified Government, representing one of the most diverse counties in Kansas and Missouri, faces some particular challenges in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Mayor/CEO Alvey acknowledged communication is a problem for his administration, but is proud of efforts to translate safety materials for the Spanish-speaking community. The mayor also discussed the stay at home order that went into effect yesterday, the economic hit to be sustained because of it and what happens in a post-pandemic recovery.

Courtesy photo

Brandy Granados felt like she was just getting back on her feet. After spending the summer without a home, she was working with a temp agency at UPS and living in an apartment with her 8-year-old son, Jude, and a roommate. 

Then two weeks ago, she was told by UPS “her assignment had ended.” And with schools closed due to the coronavirus, she’s focusing much of her energy on Jude, who Brandy says, has trouble concentrating and was getting specialized instruction at school.

Unable to work, Granados doesn’t know how she’ll pay her rent in April.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The KCUR news staff presents the State of Kansas City series as a look ahead to 2020 on topics of importance to the region. Find the State of Kansas City report on other topics in the series as they are published each weekday, Jan. 6–Jan. 20. Follow coverage on these topics at KCUR.org and on 89.3 FM throughout the year.

Buzz about new housing and development in the metro has focused on downtown Kansas City, Missouri. The past two decades saw former warehouses and old buildings converted to lofts at lightning speed.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Council on Thursday resoundingly passed what advocates are calling a historic resolution, codifying protections for renters.

Mayor Quinton Lucas, who often talks about his lack of stable housing growing up in Kansas City, made affordable housing a flagship issue of his campaign.

Segment 1: Why attracting artists is a goal for a new affordable-housing complex.

Pendleton Arts Block is a new project unfolding in the historic Northeast, providing affordable housing with an eye toward attracting artists. Because of competitive grant funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the effort to transform this block is happening on a national stage. This is a discussion about what affordable housing means for artists, and for the ecosystem of a city.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City's most prominent renters rights group was set to gather Wednesday on the south steps of City Hall to rally support for a newly drafted tenant bill of rights package.

The measure would reinforce and expand protections for low-income renters in Kansas City, Missouri, and would create a tenant advocate's office with authority to investigate suspect property owners and revoke landlord permits.

Segment 1: KC Tenants will introduce a set of guidelines and protections for tenant-landlord disputes.

Since February, a Kansas City tenants group has been pushing for safe, fair, affordable housing for all. Their latest efforts have been drafting and garnering support for a tenant bill of rights, which they will present to City Council on Thursday.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

Mold. No heat in the winter. Leaking roofs.

The most common complaints Teresa Baker hears about rental housing in Kansas revolve around poor living conditions that violate state law.

Seg. 1: Micro-Apartments | Seg. 2: Dad Jokes Beer

Jun 6, 2019

Segment 1: Affordability of Micro-Apartments

Developers plan to include micro-apartments as an option for "affordable housing" in the Midland building downtown. The plan has inspired an outcry from skeptical Kansas Citians: Is paying $750 for a tiny apartment truly affordable? A housing advocate and a business journalist weigh in.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

In the final days before Kansas City voters decide on new leadership, a recently-formed advocacy group is making a push to highlight the priorities of property renters.

On Saturday, about 60 organizers and volunteers with KC Tenants in Action gathered at a training event and canvased neighborhoods in a door-to-door campaign with a goal of reaching 3000 households.

Madeline Fox / Kansas News Service

Hutchinson building official Trent Maxwell recalls the city, years back, inspecting the home of a woman whose gas had been shut off for nearly a year.

“She was using one burner on the electric stove to heat water to bathe her little kids,” he said.

The woman finally got fed up and called city officials. She’d held off, she said, because her landlord threatened to land her in jail if she summoned inspectors. That wasn’t true. But she believed the threat.

“No one,” Maxwell said, “should have to live like that.”

File photo by Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Tara Raghuveer wants to raise the alarm.

"The national housing crisis has not skipped over Kansas City," she says. "Half the people in this city are tenants and many of them have issues with their housing."

Raghuveer is the woman behind the Kansas City Eviction Project, which has analyzed 18 years of eviction filings in Jackson County.

File photo by Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Organizer fears that, "If we wait five years to make a bold intervention . . . we won't have people of color, workers and poor folks able to live in our city anymore."

A new tenant-power organization looks to help the more than twenty-thousand renters in the Kansas City area deal with issues related to poorly managed rental properties. Tara Raghuveer is behind the effort and she spoke about informing tenants of their rights and providing relief in the ongoing affordable housing crisis.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Is housing really as affordable for Kansas Citians as we say it is?

A new study finds housing in Kansas City isn't as affordable for low-income residents as we would like. We discuss the study, the recommendations for improvement presented to the city council and what is to come.

Segment 2, beginning at 11:55: Goat Yoga. Need we say more?

Kevin Collison / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City, Missouri, has long prided itself as an affordable place to live. But a new study commissioned by the city paints a different picture.

The study, commissioned a year ago by the city council, shows that affordable housing options exist for people of high or moderate incomes. But for people who make less than $30,000 a year, options are scarce. 

Big Stock

Kansas City’s rental inspection program officially went live on Tuesday, a month after voters approved its creation.

Under the new rules, all landlords must pay $20 to register for a permit. They will also be charged an annual fee of $20 per unit so the health department can hire inspectors to respond to tenant complaints. Additional fees would apply if inspectors have to return to the same property to address unresolved issues.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

There's a proposed rental inspection program on Tuesday's primary ballot in Kansas City, Missouri, something supporters say would hold landlords accountable but that opponents warn could have negative consequences down the line.

Barbara Shelly / KCUR 89.3

Lora McDonald says she had to live with mold in her Kansas City, Missouri, apartment for six months before her landlord took any action.

“It is a long time to live with mold outside my son’s bedroom,” McDonald says.

McDonald, executive director of More2 and an advocate for equitable housing, says she took her concerns all the way to the director of the Kansas City health department, who told her that aside from testing for mold and advising the landlord to fix it, there was nothing the city could do.

Kurt Bauschardt / Flickr--Creative Commons

Segment 1: "Healthy homes" ballot initiative addresses rental property inspections. 

Kansas City, Missouri, voters will have the opportunity to weigh in on a "healthy homes" initiative this August 7. If the measure is approved, rental properties in town will be subject to health department inspections if community members complain about their condition. Today, we learned why supporters think the measure will hold landlords more accountable, while those against it think the initiative will drive landlords away from Kansas City properties.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

For people on fixed incomes, being priced out of house and home by redevelopment and rising property values is a real concern. Today, we learn how developers can maintain affordable housing levels while improving neighborhoods and avoiding gentrification.

Barbara Shelly / KCUR 89.3

The recent refusal of a Kansas City Council committee to move forward with a plan to focus on health and safety concerns in rental housing may not be the last word on the contentious matter.

Advocates for tenants and low-income Kansas Citians are drawing up a strategy to collect signatures for an initiative petition that, if successful, would compel the city council to put the question of a rental inspection fee to voters.

Barbara Shelly / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Councilman Scott Wagner’s drive to get a controversial housing measure before voters this year fell short on Thursday.

Members of the city council’s Housing Committee put Wagner’s ordinance seeking an inspection fee for rental units on hold, meaning the city will not meet a deadline to put a question on the November ballot.

Barbara Shelly / KCUR 89.3

Complaints from Kansas Citians about rotting floors, broken fixtures and black mold in rental units often make their way to City Hall. But short of condemning an entire building or advising renters on do-it-yourself remedies, officials currently can’t do much to help.

Prompted by health officials and some neighborhood groups, Councilman Scott Wagner wants to give the city some better tools — and he wants to do it sooner rather than later.

According to national statistics, when rent goes up, so does the number of evictions. What does this look like locally? From 2000 to 2015, Kansas City saw an average of 27 evictions per day. As part of an ongoing conversation about Kansas City's changing rental market, we discuss the causes and consequences of eviction.

Guests:

Renting a home or apartment in Kansas City isn't as cheap and easy as it once was. So what happened? Who's being displaced and how will they cope?

Guests:

Millions of Americans are evicted every year because they can’t make the rent. For poor families already struggling with finances, the repercussions of being evicted can be crushing.

Guest:

When Kansas City Young Audiences was founded in 1961, its mission was to provide children in local schools the chance to see and hear classical music performances they might otherwise never experience. The definition of arts education has expanded through the years.

Tony Award winning performer Idina Menzel has had a career on stage, in films and television, and in music. This weekend, she joins the Kansas City Symphony to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Kansas City Young Audiences.

Kansas City, Mo. – Performer Idina Menzel appeared in the original casts of "Rent" and "Wicked" (she won a Tony for Best Actress as Elphaba). Currently, she has a recurring role on the musical television program, "Glee."

Arts Education at a Young Age