Alice, 80, has lived in the home since her late parents Joe and Hilda Paredes bought it in 1948.
The home features several family photos in the living room, including ones of her late husband Phil, their five children, their 31 grandchildren and greatgrandchildren and Alice’s 1960 graduation photo from the now closed Redemptorist High School.
“It means everything to me. I raised my family here. We grew up in this house,” Alice said.
The mortgage on Alice’s home has been paid off since 1973.
She retired in 2006 after working at KCP&L in the payroll department and has been on a fixed income since that time.
With development in her neighborhood, property values skyrocketed.
Alice was about to see her property taxes triple.
She fought it and won, but there was no guarantee her taxes wouldn’t go up again.
But then the city council last year passed an ordinance based on Missouri State Law Chapter 353 originally designed for developers.
It allows homeowners in the Westside Neighborhood, largely in zip code 64108, to apply for a property tax relief program.
Depending on income, it allows homeowners like Alice to freeze their current property tax payments for up to 25 years.
As a member of the local neighborhood association, Alice has also helped get the word out.
“And right now, we’ve got half of Westside that did sign up for this program,” she said.
“It’s a voluntary program. It’s an equity program, it’s a home stabilization program. And we wanted to qualify people and they came to us voluntarily and said, I want to be in this program,” said Gloria Ortiz-Fisher, Westside Housing Executive Director.
Assistant Director Joe Hood has been helping Westside families apply for help since the program began last September.
He’s already made a lot of friends who’ve given him hugs and food in gratitude.
“I’ve had the privilege of meeting with everybody in the program and you see the anguish on their face, you see the stress they have with their tax bill. They don’t really know how they’re going to make ends meet. And by the time we’re done with the conversation and educating them on how this is all going to work, you could just see the sense of relief that comes right from off their shoulders,” Joe said.
His goal is to help as many people as possible before the program application period ends next year.
“And so, my phone is open, my door is open. I will go to people’s homes. I will sit on the weekends with them. I will do anything I can to try to make sure that these folks have an opportunity to maintain their asset and preserve their home,” Joe said.
Since the program began, Westside Housing has already saved the homes for three families delinquent in their property taxes.
To be eligible for the program, homeowners must spend $1000 over the next three years for outside home repairs or have spent it over the past year.
Needy families can also get help for those repairs.
The amount of tax relief is also based on income.
For Alice Gomez, she knows her property tax bill will stay the same for the next 25 years.
“And I’m not leaving here ever, have to carry me out in a box,” she said.
Homeowners interested in the program can contact Westside Housing at (816)421-8048.