Uprooting Racism: The Housing Crisis, A Personal Story

Lara Schopp Metro Service, Serve, Serve Our Church

Among the many issues the pandemic has spotlighted, affordable housing and growing evictions have risen to the forefront. The housing crisis nationwide is multifaceted. Recently we had the opportunity to learn more about critical housing issues in Kansas City and ways we might assist and protect tenants during these times. If you missed this discussion with panelists from the United Way of Greater KC, Legal Aid of Western Missouri and the City of Kansas City, Missouri, you can watch it here.

For many in our community, the problem is all too real. Sara Knopf-Amelung, Director of Resource and Program Development at Amethyst Place, shares this story about one of the organization’s clients. Amethyst Place is an agency the church is currently working to support.

Laura’s Story

It’s been one year since life as we know it has been altered by the pandemic. The social and health disparities present prior to COVID-19 were only exacerbated by this crisis, particularly the lack of affordable housing and the strain on young families.

Laura, a mom of four and graduate of Amethyst Place, is still greatly impacted by these disparities despite all of her achievements and progress. Laura lived at Amethyst Place from May 2018 until spring of last year.

Through 37 supportive housing apartments and on-site programs, Amethyst Place families receive a fully furnished home, basic needs, therapeutic services, wellness and recovery coaching, and educational and employment support — all strategies to break the generational cycles of substance use, poverty, and trauma.

Through affordable housing vouchers funded by Missouri Department of Mental Health and Housing Authority of Kansas City, residents typically pay 30% of their income toward rent, which includes utilities and use of the household pantry for groceries and personal care items. However, rent payments were waived for several months due to significant pandemic-related job loss among Amethyst Place moms — including Laura.

While at Amethyst Place, Laura was attending school for Medical Billing and Coding. That too was put on pause due to the pandemic. Despite the loss, Laura found love and wanted to expand her family. She and her children moved to Warrensburg, MO, in June 2020 to live with her fiancé.

“Losing my job to COVID made it hard to stay on top of bills,” says Laura.

Through the pandemic, she and her fiancé have not received any type of rent or utility assistance or deferrals.

Laura married in February 2021. Shortly after her wedding, she and her family moved into a rental home spacious enough for all of them in Warrensburg. They pay $1275 a month in rent.

“It’s very challenging during this pandemic. Normally, our rent would be affordable. But, with the pandemic going on and from us going from two incomes to one, it gets really tight to have $1275 in rent. But, we’re keeping a positive attitude and knowing God always provides help. We continue to look for extra ways to keep extra money coming in just to help make ends meet.”