Published March 16th, 2021 at 6:00 AM
Get the rent paid.
That has been the unwavering stance of KC Regional Housing Alliance President Stacey Johnson-Cosby from the beginning of the pandemic and throughout the resulting rental crisis.
In December 2020, Congress allocated $25 billion for emergency rental assistance. About $600 million of that money has now made its way to Kansas and Missouri. The KC Regional Housing Alliance is working with United Way and other organizations to show renters and landlords how to access these funds for themselves.
“Our goal always is and always has been to support renters and housing providers alike,” Johnson-Cosby said.
The “Get The Rent Paid” rental resource summit will be held on Zoom and streamed on Facebook Friday, March 19, at 10 a.m.
Speakers will include representatives from United Way of Greater Kansas City, Kansas Housing Corporation, the Missouri Housing Development Commission and the City of Kansas City, Missouri.
There are five different programs in the Kansas City area that are distributing these federal dollars. According to United Way Chief Community Impact Officer Jim MacDonald, the primary goal of Friday’s event is to connect landlords and tenants to the proper program based on their location and needs.
Participants will receive details on how they can apply for up to 12 months of rent and utilities assistance. The rental assistance can be used for any months dating back to April 1, 2020, and can even be used for future rent payments.
“There’s assistance in all price ranges,” Johnson-Cosby said.
According to her, this money could help renters who are struggling to find housing due to an eviction on their record. While paying back rent won’t expunge an eviction from their record, Johnson-Cosby said it gives future landlords reassurance to see that the tenant’s debt has been paid in full and that a few months of future rent payments are already available.
The application for rental assistance can be started by either the landlord or tenant, but it does require both parties to sign off on it. The specific requirements for qualifying for assistance are still being finalized, and the organizations have plans to announce details at the conference on Friday.
To Johnson-Cosby, paying the rent is the only path out of the pandemic-induced rental crisis.
She was unsatisfied with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eviction moratorium and its lack of provisions for keeping landlords afloat without rent payments from tenants.
If the rent is paid, Johnson-Cosby said, tenants are able to stay housed and housing providers are able to keep their businesses. She believes that rental assistance is the only solution that aids both parties.
The American Rescue Plan passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden last week will be providing an additional $26 billion in rental assistance to the nearly 20% of renters who were behind on rent at the beginning of 2021.
“It is really hard to overstate the need (for rental assistance) because it’s really unprecedented,” MacDonald said.
For those who would like to learn more about receiving rental assistance in Missouri and Kansas, signups for the meeting on Friday can be found on the KC Regional Housing Alliance website.
Catherine Hoffman covers community affairs and culture for Kansas City PBS in cooperation with Report for America.