Ballot measure would beef up Kansas City rental inspections

Kansas City health officials and housing advocates are campaigning for a ballot measure they say would help reduce substandard rental conditions in the city.

The Healthy Homes initiative, or Question One on the Aug. 7 ballot, would expand the Health Department’s powers to inspect the city’s estimated 109,000 rental units for serious threats, including black mold and cockroaches — major sources of childhood asthma.

The rental industry has strongly opposed the proposal, contending it would have undue consequences for landlords. But proponents of the measure say its passage could help reduce health and maintenance issues in low-income areas of the city.

More than 23,000 Kansas City tenants have “one or more severe housing conditions,” according to city data. That can mean incomplete kitchens, overcrowding and inadequate plumbing. As many as 42 percent of renters in some low-income neighborhoods said they had unresolved maintenance issues.

The program would be funded by charging landlords annual fees of $20 per unit. If an initial visit revealed problems, landlords would pay $150 for a re-inspection confirming that the issue had been addressed. Second re-inspections, if necessary, would cost $100.

Read more: Kansas City Star

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