All about the tenant right to counsel in Kansas City

Key_development Question_mark

12/27/2023, Legislation, Housing - Evictions

UPDATE DEC 2023: over 80% of tenants w/RTC are prevailing


According to KCUR, the latest data from Kansas City shows that "2,042 cases have received legal representation since the start of the program. In 1,672 of those cases — about 82% — the judge either dismissed the case or ruled in favor of the tenant."  However, the story also notes that eviction filings have continued to rise, making it difficult for the RTC program to reach all eligible tenants.


UPDATE: Newest statistics continue to demonstrate high levels of RTC effectiveness


In the latest data to be released on the City's program:


  • 1,941 tenants exercised their right to counsel;
  • 1,326 avoided eviction;
  • 350 cases remain pending;

This means that in total, 86% have remained housed with no eviction record.


UPDATE: City, legal aid highlight program's amazing results


A press release from the City of Kansas City notes that “From September 1, 2022, to August 31, 2023, the Right to Counsel program provided crucial attorney representation to 1,196 Kansas Citians facing eviction. Remarkably, Right to Counsel attorneys resolved 1,002 through dismissal, judgments in favor of the tenant, or settlements.”   Mayor Quinton Lucas stated he was “proud of the incredible impact the Kansas City Tenants Right to Counsel program made in its first year, keeping more than 1,000 Kansas Citians housed.”  Congratulations to all the organizers in KC who made this incredible victory happen, and to Legal Aid of Western Missouri, Heartland Center for Jobs and Freedom, and the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) for providing amazing legal services!


Additionally, a new report from the Heartland Center for Jobs and Freedom, The State of Eviction 2023, includes a summary of the outcomes of the first 15 months of RTC in Kansas City, where 86% of tenants represented pursuant to RTC avoided eviction.



UPDATE: Newest data continues to show program's success

According to data from the Heartland Center for Jobs and Freedom (a right to counsel legal services provider in Kansas City) and KCUR, "right to counsel attorneys have taken 1,200 eviction cases and 771 of them have been resolved. Of those resolved cases, 91.5% of tenants have avoided eviction – almost a complete reversal from the 99% of tenants who were evicted before the program." 

UPDATE: early results of right to counsel show dramatic drop in eviction rate

According to a press release from the City of Kansas City:

Prior to the pandemic, 99% of cases filed in Jackson County resulted in evictions. In the first three months of the Right to Counsel Program the City is seeing a drastic change. Initial data indicates having a lawyer paired with rental assistance shows an eviction rate less than 20%.

KCUR and the Kansas City Star have more on the first 3 months of the program.


In 2021, a campaign was officially launched in Kansas City by KC Tenants, Stand Up KC, Missouri Workers Center, Heartland Center for Jobs and Freedom, and many other groups to push for an eviction right to counsel.  The campaign called for $2.5 million in funding for the ordinance.  It was covered (with terrific video footage) in the Kansas City Star, KMBC (NBC), KCUR (NPR), and The Pitch.

On December 9, Kansas City passed the ordinance, which will be implemented by June 2022.  The ordinance guarantees full-scope representation and covers all tenants facing eviction regardless of income. Tenants facing eviction filed outside Kansas City, where the property lies within Kansas City, are also covered.

The passage was covered by the Kansas City Star, KSHB, KCUR (NPR), and Fox 4.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes



The NCCRC has supported the efforts of some of the campaign participants.