KC Tenants is changing the housing conversation: Best of KC 2019

KC tenants has grown into a formidable movement in a remarkably short period of time. // Photo by Lost Thought Productions.

Our annual Best of Kansas City 2019 issue is out now. Go grab a copy. Alternatively, you can browse the results of the readers’ poll here. The issue also includes a list, compiled and written by The Pitch’s editorial staff, shouting out some of our current favorite things about KC. We’ll be publishing these items online throughout the month of October.

For the last five years, Kansas City native Tara Raghuveer has been researching evictions in the KC area, but she’s been doing it from afar—first from Harvard, where she founded the Kansas City Eviction Project, and later from Chicago as housing campaign director at the People’s Action Institute. As of earlier this year, though, Raghuveer is officially walking the walk, having moved back to her hometown and launched the housing organization KC Tenants. In a remarkably short period of time, the group has grown into an impossible-to-ignore actor on the local political landscape. This summer’s municipal elections were a coming-out party of sorts for KC Tenants; members flooded mayoral debates and forums, asking tough questions about tenants’ rights and demanding action on issues related to housing and development in the city. They put forth a “people’s housing platform,” tracked mayor and city council candidates’ reactions to it, and made voter cheat sheets based on those responses. (Not for nothing, the loudest advocate for housing reform in the race, Quinton Lucas, is now the mayor.) And recently, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders retweeted Raghuveer’s call for a homes guarantee, a plan to ensure U.S. citizens have permanent and affordable housing. “We need a 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights,” Sanders tweeted, “and that includes a right to decent housing.” In a city that’s just now beginning to glimpse the corrosive effects of a haywire housing market, where evictions in poor parts of town are spiraling out of control, and where our leaders (and citizens) have for far too long shrugged while subsidizing real estate developments that exacerbate income inequality, KC Tenants is exactly the right group at exactly the right time.

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