KSNT 27 News

Statewide housing study outlines need for new housing, rehab, and workers

TOPEKA (KSNT) – State leaders are getting ready to release the results of the first Kansas housing study in nearly 30 years. Kansas Housing Resources Corporation (KHRC) and the Office of Rural Prosperity partnered to launch the 2021 Kansas Statewide Housing Needs Assessment back in January.

The study included a series of 71 virtual and in-person listening sessions with more than 425 community participants across the state, as well as meetings with housing stakeholder groups. Consultants also conducted a statewide survey of more than 4,400 respondents.

KHRC Executive Director Ryan Vincent said statewide the study found a need for a variety of housing across all income levels.

“We have such a lack of quality affordable housing at all income levels,” Vincent said. “If we can actually construct additional housing units maybe a little bit more on the higher side that might free up some people that can afford to move up in their housing consumption, which would free up units that are affordable and quality for a different income level.”

In Shawnee County, Vincent said they saw a need for rehab resources to help homeowners improve their current housing. He said a number of communities in the state have a high vacancy rate, but also a lack of affordable housing.

“We need to get to the bottom of that in some of these communities,” Vincent said. “We need to figure out why we have such a high vacancy amount. If those units truly aren’t liveable then we need to either take them off the market or else rehab them to the point that they are meeting our communities’ needs.”

One thing that could hurt efforts to fix these problems is a lack of workers. Across the state, Vincent said the study saw a need for more skilled contractors. He said it’s essential that state and local governments provide incentives for people to go to school and enter that field.

The full report and recommendations will be posted online following a statewide tour. Join KHRC’s mailing list and select “Housing Needs Assessment 2021” to be notified when the full report is available. Kansans are encouraged to learn more about the study’s results and how their communities can expand housing opportunities by participating in upcoming regional sessions:

There will also be a virtual forum at noon on December 13.

Vincent said they have action items for both state and local governments. He said they will be working with lawmakers in the upcoming legislative session in January to address concerns in this study.