KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kansas City opened the Emergency Rental Assistance Center earlier this month to help residents go through the process of applying for rental and utility assistance.
So far, 81% of the $ 12 million the federal government has given to the program has been used and about 136 people have been helped.
The center organized its first session on Saturday September 25. Representative Emanuel Cleaver, who helped secure significant funding, attended the session on his short return visit from Washington.
According to Cleaver, there will never be enough money to completely solve the housing crisis – the lack of access to adequate housing has historical roots.
âWe have done things to hurt the poor more when it comes to housing,â Cleaver said. “Like building I-70 through a poor neighborhood.”
He says insufficient emphasis has been placed on affordable housing for all and it took a global pandemic to expose the urgency of the situation.
Cleaver says the likelihood of another rental aid building going through is highly unlikely, especially its legislative approval.
Now the courts are involved because the only way to pass another rental program is to put it in federal law.
âWe want to do something more than just provide assistance for a short period of time. We want affordable housing that people can move into, âCleaver said.
Nigel Johnson, who has been a homeowner in Kansas City for over 20 years, says he was once without a job and couldn’t pay the bills. He spent three years in physiotherapy following a head-on collision.
“So I also know what it’s like to be in a situation where you have the best of intentions, you thought you got it all figured out, but life does happen sometimes, and then we have to dig the hole we’re in.” Johnson said.
He spends time learning about assistance programs available in the area to let other people in need know where to seek help.
One of the main obstacles to obtaining financial aid is a lack of public information, according to Johnson.
Cleaver says he thinks the best chance to tackle the housing problem is to endorse President Biden’s Build Back Better program.
Billions of dollars have been set aside under the social housing plan, which has not been built in Kansas City for over 25 to 30 years.
The center is only open by appointment. Call (816) 513-4501 to make an appointment.
The center is open regularly on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a one-hour break from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.
The center is also open Thursday afternoons from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at 4400 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, in the offices of the City’s Housing and Community Development Department.
- Identification (driver’s license, birth certificate, etc.)
- Proof of residency
- Proof of income (pay stub, W-2 forms, 2020 tax return)
- Documentation of the requirement