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About

Kansas City Tenants (KC Tenants) is an organization led by a multigenerational, multiracial, anti-racist base of poor and working class tenants in Kansas City. KC Tenants organizes to ensure that everyone in KC has a safe, accessible, and truly affordable home.

Theory of Change

The people closest to the problem are closest to the solution. KC Tenants organizes to change the conditions of what’s possible. Organizing is fundamentally democratic; it relies on developing grassroots leaders to learn their rights, tell their stories, and determine their own liberation.

People’s Housing Platform

We wrote a People’s Housing Platform in February 2019, rooted in our own experience. This platform is the product of 750+ conversations with renters in KC, three community workshops, and edits from local lawyers, professors, and advocates. Read more here.

Tenants Bill of Rights

We wrote and passed a Tenants Bill of Rights for Kansas City in December 2019. The Tenants Bill of Rights included a resolution and an ordinance. It was implemented beginning in June 2020. Read our summary here.

Board

Tiana Caldwell (she/her) is a leader and Board President with KC Tenants. She became involved in the fight for housing justice when her family experienced homelessness for six months following an eviction and her second cancer diagnosis. Along with Diane Charity and Brandy Granados, Tiana helped to found KC Tenants. Tiana is a licensed nurse and a community college instructor. She is married to Derrick, and they have two sons, Steven and AJ, and two grandchildren.

Steven Tyler (he/they) is a leader and Board Vice President with KC Tenants. He grew up in Kansas City, Kansas and moved to Missouri in 2002. He struggled with housing and work stability due to depression and anxiety disorder for several years before receiving HUD housing assistance in 2005. Steven has volunteered at organizations like The Place, Heart Ministries, and Central Library. He has been a leader with KC Tenants since the second tenant meeting.

Diane Charity (she/her) is a leader and Board Secretary with KC Tenants. She has spent 30 years giving back to her community as the former Board President for the Manheim Neighborhood Association and the Parade Park Homes Cooperative. She currently serves as the Chair for Kansas City Public Television’s Community Advisory Board. Diane has lived in Kansas City most of her life, believes deeply in the KC Tenants mission, and believes that we will win.

Ronald Clark (he/him) is a leader and Board Treasurer with KC Tenants. Born and raised in KCMO, he has lived in Kansas City’s 3rd District his whole life. After graduating from Saint Louis University in 2017 with a degree in Civil Engineering, Ron chose to return to his hometown in hopes of using his skills to better the East side, and the broader Kansas City community. Ron is currently working as a Construction Inspector on highway projects. Along with housing justice, Ron is also passionate about public works, criminal justice reform, and all things infrastructure.

Kathleen Pointer (she/her) is the Board Outreach Lead for KC Tenants. Her first KC Tenants event was the public launch on City Hall steps when she accompanied Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark Bedell as he spoke about the chaos evictions inflict on the lives of many KCPS students. On behalf of the School District, Kathleen advocated alongside KC Tenants to pass a Tenant Bill of Rights. Kathleen is the senior public policy strategist and City Hall liaison for Kansas City Public Schools. She focuses on local and statewide initiatives impacting KCPS families, including a particular focus on equity in education, housing, and economic development. In her former life, Kathleen was a journalist.

Fellows

KC Tenants is committed to cultivating the leadership of Black organizers within our base. Based on which communities are most impacted by housing injustice in Kansas City, it is critical that Black leaders are supported to step into more and deeper leadership roles within our organization. Summer 2020, during the national uprisings on racial equity, our Board formalized that commitment by voting to launch a Black Organizing Fellowship.

This fall, KC Tenants is launching our first Black Organizing Fellowship. The fellowship will last six months, and the fellows will be paid a living-wage stipend to organize. The 2020-2021 KC Tenants Fellows include:

Jenay Manley (she/her) grew up in Kansas City. Last year, she returned to a toxic relationship in order to keep a roof over her kids’ heads. Jenay has experienced housing insecurity since she was a child. She believes that housing is a Black issue, and that Black liberation won’t come until we all have safe, healthy, and stable homes. Jenay is the mother of twins, Avery and Lilly.

Ashley Johnson (she/her) is a mother of three, was a child of foster care, and is a survivor of domestic violence. After moving to Kansas City, Missouri, she was an active member of the Women’s Football Alliance (W.F.A.) where she played for two local teams and also served on the board as community coordinator for several years. She is currently experiencing homelessness, as she has at various points in her life. Ashley has been illegally evicted, lived in poor conditions, and more. All of this grounds her commitment to leading the fight with KC Tenants. Ashley is also involved in the Reale Justice Network and the National Lawyers Guild.

James “Quadafi” Shelby (he/him) was born in a shotgun house in Mississippi. He moved to St. Louis at the age of six and was often teased for “being country.” Quadafi came to Kansas City at the age of 18 and ended up in prison with a life sentence. He became an activist and a jailhouse lawyer in prison. Quadafi got out of prison eventually, but ended up sentenced again. He served 22 years until he was released August 2019. Quadafi has been unhoused since his release date.

Shanice Taylor (she/her) is a Community Health Worker with the Kansas City Health Start Initiative. She works with pregnant women who experience housing instability and health inequities. Shanice got involved with KC Tenants in August 2019 as someone committed to centering tenant voices and leadership. She was born and raised in St. Louis where her family lived the experience of the city’s racial and class divides. Shanice has an undergraduate degree in Health Science and is currently working on a Master’s degree in Social Work.

Tiana Caldwell (she/her) is a leader and Board President with KC Tenants. (See bio above.)

Team

Tara Raghuveer (she/her) is the founding director of KC Tenants. She is also the Homes Guarantee Campaign Director at People’s Action, a national network of grassroots organizations committed to racial, economic, gender, and climate justice. Tara is an Australian-born, Indian-American immigrant who came to the US with her family in 1995 and grew up in Kansas City.

Wilson Vance (she/her) is the campaign manager with KC Tenants. Wilson leads corporate campaigns and tenant union organizing. She also organizes the Protect MO Tenants coalition. Previously Wilson organized healthcare and fast food workers.

Mason Andrew Kilpatrick (he/them) is a community organizer with KC Tenants. Mason Andrew oversees the KC Tenants hotline and base-building systems. He joined KC Tenants as a grassroots leader in August 2019 because he believes that housing is a human right. Before KC Tenants, Mason Andrew worked to support local artists through community radio stations and contemporary arts nonprofits.

Research

Our organizing is in part based on years of research on eviction in Kansas City. Read more here.

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