TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – A group of Kansans is asking Governor Kelly to stop rent and mortgage payments for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.
The coalition is called ‘Rent Zero Kansas’ — it’s a group of individuals and organizations from across the state who have joined with the national ‘Rent Zero’ campaign.
Rent Zero Kansas says that the Governor’s Executive Order that protects renters and homeowners from eviction and foreclosure doesn’t go far enough. The coalition is asking the Governor to stop rent and mortgage payments for the remainder of the Governor’s emergency declaration. They are also asking for all unpaid rent and mortgage payments to be forgiven once the pandemic ends. Representatives from the coalition said it’s unrealistic that people struggling will be able to pay multiple months of back rent once the Governor’s order is lifted.
“All of these people that can’t pay rent are starting to pile up and once that moratorium is lifted, there’s going to be a tidal wave of evictions,” explained Brandon Irwin of Renter’s Together MHK and Rent Zero Kansas.
Irwin says the group has already heard from tenants that landlords are threatening eviction once the Governor’s order is lifted. Noah Rude, also with Renter’s Together MHK and Rent Zero Kansas, says now is not the time for people to be on the streets.
“A lot of people are at risk of losing their homes and this is a very dangerous time to be homeless,” said Rude. “I mean, what do you tell your kids? ‘I can’t pay rent. We can’t live here anymore.’ Where else do you go?”
Irwin says that their plan to put a pause on both rent and mortgage payments will help everyone.
“It makes everyone whole. Yeah, if renters can’t pay rent then maybe landlords can’t pay their mortgages, but we’re asking for you too,” said Irwin of landlords also having a pause on mortgage payments.
Rent Zero Kansas also asks Governor Kelly to assist in finding homes for homeless Kansans during this time. The coalition says it is unsafe for anyone to not have a place to shelter, shower and quarantine.
“All of these hotels, they’re not being used, nobody’s traveling during this time. So we have tons of empty hotels,” suggested Rude. “That’s what the UK did, they opened up hotels for homeless people.”
Both Irwin and Rude understand that there will be people that are skeptical of the Rent Zero Kansas plan, but say this is the simplest way to keep people safe right now.
“You get to the question of whether or not you believe that everybody deserves housing, and if the answer is yes to that, then we do what we have to do right now to keep people housed,” said
To learn more about the coalition or to sign the petition, click here.