Government & Politics

‘A great step’: Kansas City Council adopts affordable housing plan, searches for $75m

KC City Council on Thursday adopted a five-year housing plan.
KC City Council on Thursday adopted a five-year housing plan. skeyser@kcstar.com

On the heels of a municipal election that centered on issues important to Kansas City neighborhoods, the City Council on Thursday passed a resolution to address one: housing.

The council voted unanimously in favor of a five-year plan to spend $75 million and create or preserve another 5,000 single-family homes and apartments. Other goals include creation of a tenant-landlord university to improve relationships between those two groups, promotion of mixed-income development and measures to ensure that Kansas Citians can remain in their homes.

For the moment, much of the plan remains more aspirational than functional. The Council still needs to find $75 million — $15 million per year for five years — for loans to rehabilitate dilapidated housing, pre-development assistance to developers of new affordable housing and preservation of existing units.

Nevertheless, Councilman and Mayor-elect Quinton Lucas, fresh from his election victory Tuesday night, called passage of the housing plan a “great step.”

“Frankly, after seeing our last election where a lot of people cared, a lot of groups cared about the affordable housing issue, this brings us a step closer to our goal of 5,000 units in Kansas City by 2023,” he said. ’“It brings us to our goal of creating a housing trust fund, and it gives direction, finally, to the city manager and staff that housing and housing equity and access is incorporated into all city policies.”

Progress toward an affordable housing plan began more than a year and a half ago with a resolution from Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wagner, 1st District at-large, that directed city staff to begin work on the blueprint. Wagner, Lucas — currently a 3rd District at-large councilman — and fellow members of the Housing Committee held public sessions last fall to present the plan and get feedback.

Lucas said adoption of the plan sets housing as a priority for the city ahead of the next budget cycle.

“It’s a direction to the City Manager, for example, to really say before you’re even starting your budget conversations, we need to incorporate how we find housing funding as a part of that,” Lucas said.

Wagner congratulated Lucas on the way out of council Thursday.

“Glad to see two years worth of work completed,” Wagner said.

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