Housing

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.

Empty Houses

Aug 31, 2017
Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

In Kansas City, there are so many vacant properties that the city tried to sell some of them for a dollar. We take a look at the stories of abandoned homes — why are they empty and how do they affect communities, both urban and rural?

Guests:

The racial divide in Kansas City and across the U.S. is not just the result of individual prejudice, and developers like J.C. Nichols. We'll discuss this and more, with author Richard Rothstein, who's coming to Kansas City soon to talk about his new book, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America

Plus, is Kansas City's art scene homogenous? One outgoing artist weighs in. 

Guests:

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.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Urban parts of Kansas City have seen a rapid increase in apartment building, and the trend isn't expected to change anytime soon. Today, we find out what's behind the boom and see how it might change the metro. Then, Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Webber discusses the future of his party, and his plans to reverse recent troubles at the ballot box.

Courtesy of Port KC

As 410 luxury apartments go up along the riverfront, Port KC wants to rebrand Berkley Park.

CEO Michael Collins says Port KC wants the south bank of the Missouri River to be all of Kansas City’s front yard, not just those who move into the mixed-use development when it opens next year.

Kevin Collison / KCUR 89.3

Apartment construction in metropolitan Kansas City is hitting levels not seen since before the Great Recession with more than 5,000 units expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Many of those projects are going up in downtown Kansas City and similar places such as old Overland Park, where developers say renters both young and old covet a walkable environment.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

"This is my momma's house. I ain't movin.'"

This shout rang out amidst a press conference on the 4300 block of Forest Avenue Wednesday afternoon, right after Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker delivered a warning letter.

The warning comes after Baker's office announced they found evidence of 210 shots fired around the property since February 2016. 

"This is not a shooting range, this is a neighborhood," Baker said, after relocating a few houses away from the house in question, as residents aired their concerns about protecting their property.

In Kansas City, there is a connection between where people live and the economic realities of their lives. Today, we air a conversation hosted by American Public Square that looks to understand how poverty, race and place interact to affect the people who live in urban neighborhoods. 

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

A million-dollar housing project in Kansas City is being built to achieve two things: get homeless veterans permanent housing and restore blighted, abandoned properties in the urban core. 

Neighborhoods United, an area non-profit, is teaming up with the Kansas City, Missouri, branch of the NAACP and the Black Economic Union to restore empty properties in blighted neighborhoods and convert them into energy-efficient duplexes for veterans and people with disabilities. 

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

If you just want to see the video, scroll down

It's makes for dramatic pictures but more importantly, it's improving the neighborhood.

Kansas City — in partnership with donated services from Kissick Construction and Industrial Wrecking — started tearing down blighted homes Tuesday morning in the 2000 block of Chelsea Ave. It's the second phase of a $10 million dollar program. 

Mayor Sly James says the city will start with 23 homes the  city owns in it's Land Bank.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The historic Power & Light Building, a beloved Kansas City landmark, is embarking on a new life as one of the city’s swankiest apartment addresses.

With a grand opening set for Tuesday, the Power & Light Apartments redevelopment joins an increasingly competitive downtown market.  

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Can data help Kansas City, Kansas, reverse decades of urban decay?

Mayor Mark Holland thinks so.

It’s economics 101, the mayor says: property values plummet when there are more houses than people. That’s what happened when white families started to leave Kansas City, Kansas, in the 1960s. 

“Thirty-thousand fewer people is about 10,000 empty homes,” Holland says, “which has become about 6,000 vacant lots.”

More minorities moved in but not fast enough to make up for the population loss. Today, fewer than 150,000 people live in Kansas City, Kansas.

It might seem cramped to you, but there are plenty of reasons people consider downsizing into a tiny home.  Young adults who've been priced out of living in the city, retirees who prefer a tiny home on wheels to a giant RV, even folks whose finances were upended by the recession, are all driving a trend toward smaller, more economical living spaces.

Guest:

courtesy of Heidi Holliday / Rosedale Development Association

A gas explosion Tuesday morning destroyed one of the buildings in the Rosedale Ridge housing complex, an affordable housing project which closed in 2015 due to poor conditions.

The Kansas City, Kansas Fire Department reported heavy damage to the building, one of six in the complex. The building has been torn down.

Jake Joslyn for KCUR 89.3

In case you blinked, today is April 1, 2046.

The Royals opener is next week. The team is hoping to recreate that glorious season from 31 years ago. So here at KCUR 89.3, we’re looking back three decades to see how much has changed in Kansas City since the last time we were World Series champs.

The biggest turning point for our region happened on July 19, 2035, on Kaw Point Beach. Mayor Alex Gordon signed the Mo-Kan Unified Government charter, creating a single metropolitan area across state line.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

The city of Kansas City, Missouri recently announced $10 million in its budget to demolish hundreds of homes that are rotting in urban neighborhoods.

These homes are not only an eyesore, but attract squatters and crime.

The funds are meant to help get rid of more than 800 homes on the city’s dangerous buildings list. But when residents got wind of the program, they cried out to save some of the homes. 

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:

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

The year 2015 was a tumultuous one for some 350 residents of an affordable housing complex in Kansas City, Kansas. They had been complaining for years about conditions in the apartments, like broken or missing appliances, electrical fires, black mold.

The owner’s rental license was revoked, but residents were unsure when and if they’d get housing vouchers to move elsewhere. And they couldn’t get any help from their landlords.

Timothy Dorset / Stinson Leonard Street LLP

It’s not often you see a bunch of high priced lawyers sitting side by side community activists in a neighborhood meeting hall.

That’s what happened Friday.

They showed up at the Marlborough Community Center at 82nd and Paseo in Kansas City, Missouri because Legal Aid of Western Missouri was getting a grant.

Legal Aid received $257,441 to fund a program that pairs private law firms with blighted neighborhoods. The project is called Adopt-A –Neighborhood.

We meet a proponent from the Tiny House Collective, a local group that's all about downsizing and living in much smaller homes — and we discuss what it means for affordability, efficiency and a different way to live.

Caroline Kull / KCUR

A final Kansas City Council decision regarding a proposed Catholic student housing project located at 53rd and Troost Avenue was expected last week.

But instead, the council deferred the decision, suggesting the groups work more to resolve the conflict through mediation.

The proposed 237-bedroom dorm pits members of the surrounding neighborhoods and St. Francis Xavier Parish against the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. The building would be built just next to the church on the site of a former elementary school that is now vacant, which is owned by the diocese. 

Eleanor Klibanoff / KCUR

Driving up the hill to the Rosedale Ridge apartment complex, it's hard to imagine that anyone lives at the top of this steep incline. But the steps cut into the side of the road tell a different story: 350 low-income residents live in six squat buildings and most them don't have cars. They walk up and down this hulking hill multiple times a day. 

But probably not for long — Rosedale Ridge is on the verge of being shut down because of terrible conditions. Residents have mixed feelings about their departure, if it even happens at all. 

Kansas City is offering some assurances to a developer who filed a complaint with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Eagle Point Development is charging the city with attempting to force low-income African-American tenants out of their apartments on East Armour Boulevard.

The City Council has made no public comment.  But the full body and the Housing Committee spent several hours in closed session this week, presumably discussing the legal issues. 

BasicGov / Flickr-CC

New numbers on foreclosures in Missouri and Kansas show promising signs of economic stability for both states.

Real estate information company RealtyTrac reports that foreclosure rates in Kansas dropped 31 percent from July to September. In Missouri, the numbers dropped even lower for the same period — a 45.5 percent decrease.

RealtyTrac spokeswoman Ginny Walker said that in terms of foreclosures, both states are back to pre-housing crisis numbers. She attributes the progress to consistently low unemployment rates in both states.

A Maine-based development company that owns several low-income housing units in Kansas City, Mo., filed a federal fair housing complaint against the city Thursday.

The Eagle Point Companies alleges the city and various city officials intentionally discriminated "against African-Americans who reside and/or who seek to reside in Bainbridge, Georgian Court and Linda Vista Apartments located in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri," according to the complaint.

Cara McClain / KCUR

Blanche Thomas wants neighbors. She has been living in the Ivanhoe neighborhood at 34th Street and Brooklyn Avenue in Kansas City, Mo., since 1956.

Back then, there was a grocery store and dry cleaners across the street. Houses stood on either side of hers. But now, the block looks different.

“It has changed 100 percent because in the block that I live in there are no houses,” Thomas says. “There are no people living on my block, only my son and I.”

The two apartment buildings across the street stand empty. Thomas bought the two lots on either side of her house.

Jonathan Greenwald / Flickr-CC

It's difficult to go from living on the street to living in what most of us consider to be normal housing. That's a real challenge many homeless vets face.

On Wednesday's Up to Date, we talk about the St. Michael Center and how it's helping veterans make that difficult life transition.

Guests:

  • Eric Verzola, director of Veterans Services Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph
  • Art Fillmore, St. Michael’s Veterans Center Board Member

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