Public Works? … A Level Foundation


Kansas City has long been viewed as one of America’s most affordable cities to live. Yet that reputation is changing. After years of stagnant wages and skyrocketing rents, a quality affordable home is out of reach for thousands of metro residents.

KCPT and its digital news team at Flatland “raised the roof” in a reporting series featuring in-depth video reports, online stories, documentaries and broadcast town halls. We took a look at a series of public policies, zoning restrictions and tax incentive programs and asked: Could they be making matters worse?

From evictions to gentrification to the fight over apartments and rent, we took a closer look at how housing issues are impacting health, education and the long-term viability of neighborhoods. Experts tell us housing insecurity is a burden borne quietly and behind closed doors. But the numbers are staggering.

It seems hard to believe that every working day, 42 families receive an eviction notice from the Kansas City Housing Court. Nearly half of respondents to a 2016 IPSOS polling survey say they struggled to make rent or pay their mortgage in the past year, or they know someone who has.

Our digital news magazine created the home for multimedia, written and data-oriented reporting. A series of three digital-first videos examined affordable housing through the lenses of public housing policies, gentrification and pricing out workers. Our longform investigative reports on eviction featured original data analysis by our team, giving readers interactive data visualizations. This data was also picked up by a national eviction reporting agency.

While eviction data sets are being created on many counties nationwide, a state-by-state comparison between Kansas and Missouri had not been accomplished before. By collecting and sorting 4,519 eviction records, which could only be accessed through a public computer at a Kansas county courthouse, our reporting team took on the arduous task. The 44 days it took one team member to hand sort the records became a story of its own.

Two public town halls, hosted by our partners at the public library and moderated by our executive news producer, brought together experts, panelists and the public for discussions.

Our television documentary, “Evicted,” follows area residents as they navigate the eviction process.