Above: Stacey Johnson-Cosby
In the wake of post-pandemic price spikes, local, state and federal governments have issued ways to provide relief to cash-strapped Americans unable to keep up with rent and mortgage costs. However, for many housing providers nationwide, the eviction moratorium has had some devastating impacts.
Stacey Johnson-Cosby—a REALTOR® with ReeceNichols Real Estate—heads up the Kansas City Regional Housing Alliance and is a driving force behind the National Housing Provider Coalition. She and members of both organizations are drawing attention to tenant protections on the local and federal level that are posing a threat to private property rights.
Here, Johnson-Cosby shares how recent policies unfairly impact housing providers nationwide, and discusses what steps can be taken to ensure your real estate investment is protected.
Joey Macari: What led you to form the KC Regional Housing Alliance?
Stacey Johnson-Cosby: In Kansas City, we had an issue going before the City Council’s housing committee, and several people in the industry came to testify against it. Afterwards, I sent them an email and suggested that we stay together so that we were prepared the next time something occurred. Everybody said yes, and we’ve been meeting ever since. Our membership represents over 100,000 rental units in our region, and we’re the voice of rental-property unit owners in our region, and for that reason, we make ourselves available to elected officials or other organizations that are interested in hearing what we have to say. Most of us who are engaged in the Alliance do own, renovate and sell properties, or it’s our clients who have purchased or sold those properties. When policymakers and elected officials are creating policies, if they don’t have a background in housing, they don’t understand the impact of their policies on the person they think they’re helping. We’re stepping up to take the lead and make sure those private property rights are preserved because that is the preamble to our whole mission, and we take it seriously.
JM: In what ways has recent policy for tenant protections unfairly impacted housing providers?
SJC: During the pandemic, the government shut down, and as a result, people lost their jobs and income. Once the CDC eviction moratorium came up, the government took an unprecedented step: they stepped in and pinpointed the housing industry and demanded that we let people live in our rental properties, free of charge, even though we had a legally binding and signed contract between private citizens of this country. There are people who haven’t been paying rent for upwards of three years because there are laws in place that protect the tenant in their property and their ability to live rent-free in someone else’s property—and it is the clearest violation of private property rights that we’ve seen.
The purpose of our organization is to draw attention to these tenant-activist groups that are disrupting housing and chipping away at private property rights. We have so many legislators, policymakers and elected officials who are going along with passing these laws, and what we need to do is respond, as housing providers, and just make them aware of their unintended consequences.
JM: Describe your role with the National Housing Provider Coalition, and what you’re doing to combat these issues.
SJC: At a regional level, we saw some of these issues coming up, but through the pandemic, we realized how strong the tenant activists were getting with their tenant protections, and someone in our group said that we needed to do this at a national level. As I did with our local group, I convened a meeting of people, and we agreed that we were going to be the body of independent housing providers in our country at a national level—forming the National Housing Provider Coalition. As leader of both groups, I’ve recruited people to join us from various states across the country and have batched our efforts with a cohesive message to amplify voices of housing providers nationwide.
JM: What steps do you suggest housing providers take to get the relief they need?
SJC: First and foremost, we need them to join our coalition. There’s no fee. It’s just a coalition of like-minded people who get together on Zoom and identify the issues that are going on. I got a chance to present at the National Association of REALTORS®’ Midyear meeting last year, and as a result, they agreed and voted to form a work group—which was better than I would have expected. This work group will put together what we think is the most important thing: a toolkit. Agents across the country, whether they’re in state or local jurisdiction, or even at the federal level, can use the toolkit that shows what our policy suggestion would be to accomplish their goal and do it in a way that doesn’t erode private property rights. We’re then going to share with them what to look for in their policy, how to be proactive if they want to create more affordable rental housing, and what they can do in their local or state government.
For more information, visit https://kcregionalhousingalliance.org.