By Emmet Pierson, Jr., President & CEO
Community Builders of Kansas City
Coronavirus pandemic has exposed extreme disparities in housing options and availability for our working class and disadvantaged populations. In many neighborhoods across the country, it is an unofficial “state of emergency” with no clear direction of how to confront and address the problem.
Quality housing options are not available at a price point that individuals and families can afford while having enough remaining for their basic needs or savings. Because of this, a majority of these households live paycheck to paycheck and are just one setback or unexpected expense away from being unable to pay their rent or mortgage. Studies show more than half of all Americans spend over 40% of their income on rent and utilities. This is 10% higher than the acceptable 30% used by creditors to determine credit worthiness. Several millions more are living in a state of housing uncertainty, described as living with a friend or family member, experiencing frequent moves, having trouble paying rent or being without consistent employment. Locally, a minimum-wage full-time employee making $10.30 per hour in Kansas City, Missouri, does not have a high enough income to afford a market priced two-bedroom apartment in any county of the metro. This leaves them with very few spending options, including paying nearly 50% of their income on rent and utilities or living in less than desirable housing conditions.
In 2017, KCMO voters passed Central City Economic Development (CCED), which imposes a sales tax of 1/8 percent to be used for funding economic development projects within a focused area of Kansas City’s urban core that has been disinvested and redlined for decades. CCED projects increase the number of housing options for surrounding residential neighborhoods.
Community Builders of Kansas City leads economic development access and advocacy for Kansas City’s east side through its residential and commercial development. Since 1991, Community Builders has invested $225 million in urban renewal, earning recognition and respect on the national community development stage.
I have spent my career advocating for this type of investment in Kansas City. Now is the time to partner-up and scale-up!
Emmet Pierson has over 30 years of economic development experience. To learn more visit: cb-kc.org.