Are downtown KC’s rents pricing out too much of the middle class?

Downtown Kansas City’s ongoing revitalization has sparked a population boom. But that has come with rising rents, which is pushing many would-be residents out of the city center, including many who work downtown.

Average wage earners, referred to as “the missing middle,” face a conundrum: They’re not affluent enough to live comfortably in luxury apartments renting at two grand a month, but they’re too affluent to qualify for income-restricted homes.

What downtown needs is “workforce housing,” said Michael Frisch, an architecture professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

One way to add “workforce housing” downtown, some are saying, is to boost tax incentives for luxury projects that set aside 20 percent of units for “affordable” rent — under $900, for example. Kansas City Councilman Quinton Lucas, chairman of the Housing Committee, expressed support for such measures at a meeting with the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority, one of the city’s incentive-granting agencies.

So far there appears to be no shortage of demand for the new luxury apartments shaping KC’s downtown skyline. But as more units go up, developers predict, the supply of housing eventually will cause the market to soften and rents to stabilize.

Read more: Kansas City Star

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