Kansas City’s first ever “Right to Counsel” program to prevent evictions and provide free legal assistance and support to individuals and families officially starts on June 1.
The Housing and Community Development Department will enter into four contracts, totaling $700,000, with legal organizations who will provide these services:
- The Heartland Center for Jobs and Freedom will provide one attorney and training for all attorneys involved in Right to Counsel program;
- Legal Aid will provide three attorneys; and
- UMKC Fellows program, will provide three or more attorneys.
Additionally, there will be a call navigator program, recommended by Legal Aid, Heartland Center, UMKC and United Way which will run all intake required to provide information to those Kansas Citians facing eviction in Jackson, Clay, Platte or Cass counties.
“I am proud to share today Kansas City’s Right to Counsel Program is staffed and funded, which will help ensure all who need it in Kansas City have access to housing legal assistance,” said Mayor Quinton Lucas. “This is another important step in our work to protect renters and help folks stay in their homes. Still, there is more work to be done. I thank all in our community who have worked with the City Council on advancing this important initiative.”
“Thank you to leaders at KC Tenants for identifying a serious unmet need in our city and for shining light on one of the biggest challenges and traumatic events our residents face: evictions,” said City Manager Brian Platt. “This is just one step of many we will take to better support those with housing insecurity in Kansas City.”
“This new program will ensure that all individuals facing eviction will have legal representation. We as a City will do all we can to see the successful implementation of the Right to Counsel Program, which will have a profound impact on the lives of those that are in most need of our representation,” added Sixth District at-Large Councilmember Andrea Bough.
The Right to Counsel initiative continues the City’s mission to address housing insecurity, affordable housing and issues facing our houseless and housing insecure community. City initiatives so far include:
- Allocating $25 million to the City’s affordable housing trust fund that will incentivize the creation of affordable housing units and other housing options within larger otherwise market-rate multifamily development projects
- Distributing $20.6 million in emergency rental assistance funds to nearly 4,400 households in Kansas City
- Using community input to develop a “Vision for Housing” that outlines the plan to create 10,000 new affordable housing units by 2027
- Establishing a Housing and Community Development Department with the City’s first employees dedicated to homelessness prevention and support, tenant advocacy, and affordable housing creation and preservation
- Working to convert nearly 3,000 vacant lots and homes owned by the City’s Land Bank into affordable housing
- Creating the City’s first ever homelessness prevention coordinator
- Creating the city’s first ever tenant advocate positions
- Establishing a right to counsel program for tenants in need of legal assistance
- Converting a former hotel into permanent supportive housing and emergency transitional housing for those experiencing homelessness
For more information about the many city programs that assist tenants, please visit https://www.kcmo.gov/city-hall/housing/tenant-resources