In response to KCMO’s housing issues, residents rose up to form the grassroots organization KC Tenants in Action. With the mayoral win of Quinton Lucas on June 18, the group feels it scored a win and issued the following statement:
KC Tenants in Action, an organization led by tenants in Kansas City, ran a four month campaign to make housing a central issue in the municipal election and to elect tenant champions.
In the past four months, KC Tenants in Action contacted 16,451 renters in Kansas City through door-to-door and neighborhood canvassing, phone banking, and house meetings. In the last week alone, the KC Tenants in Action voter guide was viewed by 5,311 people. Additionally, tenants wrote a People’s Housing Platform, issued a questionnaire to all of the candidates for Mayor and Council, organized disruptions at several candidate forums, staged a response to Mayor Sly James’s State of the City, held two mass canvasses with over 60 participants, and hosted a City Council Forum and house meetings with the Mayoral candidates.
“Tenants have been suffering, written out of Kansas City’s civic conversation for too long. So we organized and demanded to be taken seriously,” said Tiana Caldwell, a grassroots leader with KC Tenants in Action. “We moved affordable housing from the fringe to the forefront. Every candidate had to respond to tenants. Tenants have issued a mandate: the next Mayor and Council must prioritize housing and give tenants a seat at the table. Kansas City hasn’t heard the last of us yet. Our movement will continue to grow.”
Marquesha Moore, a grassroots leader with KC Tenants in Action said: “We’re building a new base of power. I’ve never been involved in anything political before. I have been noticing the change in Kansas City for a while, and I knew that I needed to be a part of standing up for what’s right and fight for my home. I’m overwhelmed and completely sure that we decided the results of this election.”
“As someone with a felony record, I face extraordinary discrimination. I live in substandard housing. And for too long, people like me have not had a voice in Kansas City politics. Now we have a voice, and we have real power,” said Robert Richardson, a grassroots leader with KC Tenants in Action. “Quinton Lucas told us he wants his legacy to be housing. I’m counting on him to keep that promise. Accountability starts now.”
“I voted for the first time today. I had to do it because I can’t watch as thousands more people experience my housing struggle. I need this city to do better. We all do,” said Tonya Bowman, a grassroots leader with KC Tenants in Action. “I feel liberated and I feel powerful. We’re here to take our city back.”
Kansas City Tenants (KC Tenants) in Action is a new organization led by a multiracial, multigenerational base of tenants in Kansas City. We know that poor people and communities of color will not be able to live in KC if we fail to imagine and win systemic change. KC Tenants are organizing to ensure that everyone in KC has a safe, accessible, and truly affordable home.