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Mayor Recognizes Area Housing Authorities and Housing Partners for Assisting Hurricane Katrina Victims

Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Kay Barnes commended the work of ten metro area public housing authorities (PHAs) in rapidly mobilizing to find permanent housing for families forced to evacuate their homes in the Gulf Coast region.

Immediately after Hurricane Katrina evacuees began arriving in the Kansas City region Mayor Barnes called upon local housing partners, including the Missouri Housing Development Commission, Fannie Mae, the Home Builders Association,, HUD, Catholic Charities, the Kansas City Housing Authority, the Heartland Apartment Association, and the American Red Cross to identify as many as 250 rental housing units and to create an infrastructure for reaching out to displaced hurricane victims that relocate to the metropolitan region. The American Red Cross has assisted approximately 1,500 persons or 600 families that have thus far evacuated to Kansas City with basic support, including food, transitional housing, health care, and essential items.

Last week, the Mayor’s Office and the Fannie Mae Kansas City Partnership Office convened metro area public housing authorities, SAVE Inc, and the State of Missouri Department of Mental Health Shelter Plus Care to identify available housing resources to implement Kansas City’s Hurricane Katrina housing assistance program. The Kansas City Housing Authority has selected and screened over 250 housing rental units, both single-family homes and apartment units, currently listed on the website. So as not to delay the placement of a hurricane victim, the housing authority in partnership with City staff are conducting inspections of each unit in accordance with HUD’s Housing Quality Standards. In addition, the landlords have agreed to waive security deposits and to pay for the cost of utilities for three months.

The ten metro area public housing authorities have agreed to prioritize 550 HUD Section 8 vouchers and 94 available public housing units for Gulf Coast families in desperate need of a place to live. Each PHA will serve as the central point of intake for the long-term housing needs of evacuees and make the necessary referrals to the appropriate housing authorities or other agencies in the seven county bi-state region. As of September 14, permanent housing assistance has been provided to 70 Gulf Coast families. Additional work is underway with the American Red Cross, faith-based community, business and nonprofit organizations agencies to provide for the long-term needs of evacuees, such as jobs, community resource kits, utility assistance, transportation and health care.

Mayor Barnes has encouraged the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Congress to take immediate actions to provide additional governmental assistance and to facilitate access to permanent housing for those displaced by Hurricane Katrina. In a letter dated September 6 to HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson, the Mayor specifically asked HUD and Congress to consider:

    • “Tenant protection vouchers” to cover the relocation cost of former residents of Gulf Coast public housing and other HUD assisted Multi-family housing units as well as additional Section 8 vouchers for previously unassisted households that are currently homeless.

    • Including appropriation for housing counseling and assistance (including psychological) at an amount equal to $5,000 per family along with funding for administration.

    • Additional funds to allow public and private owners of affordable housing in Kansas City and other jurisdictions to repair and/or rehabilitate housing units to make them immediately available to those displaced by the hurricane.

    • Waiving income verification and initial Housing Quality Standards (HQS) requirement that allow a family to move in prior to full conformance.

    • Designating a specific allocation of “tenant protection vouchers” to the Kansas City Housing Authority and other designated public housing authorities in regions impacted by the relocation of Gulf Coast victims. Furthermore, I suggest that in order to expedite application procedures and streamline the allocation of vouchers that designated regional PHAs be granted access to the PIC database for Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and the resources to serve as a clearinghouse for permanent housing assistance in collaboration with the American Red Cross.

Mayor Barnes continues to encourage local property owners or landlords who wish to make available to evacuees affordable rental housing units to post them at the website. Area PHAs will determine eligibility for Section 8 vouchers and match the evacuee families with an available housing unit. Additional ways Kansas Citians can assist displaced Hurricane Katrina victims are posted on the City’s website – is an internet-based affordable housing database and clearinghouse serving 500 communities in multiple states and currently list over 1200 affordable housing units for rent within Kansas City, Missouri.

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