In November of last year, Kansas City embarked on a months-long process of evaluating the city’s most pressing housing needs through hosting a series of public meetings, conducting a citywide housing survey of residents, engaging city leaders, and hosting input sessions with a stakeholder group of local experts. The ultimate goal being the development of a five-year housing policy that appropriately addresses Kansas City’s current and future housing challenges.
Since we know that quality affordable housing can be a prescription for good health, we at Health Forward have been eagerly awaiting the affordable housing policy that was presented to the Housing Committee earlier this month. The document outlines the vision and goals for improving the future of housing in Kansas City.
The major goals of the policy include:
- Create/preserve 5,000 additional single family and multifamily housing units by December 2023.
- Create a $75 million housing trust fund to create and preserve units.
- Implement less burdensome regulations, appropriate incentives, and more resources to nonprofit and private developers.
- Ensure housing policies emphasize holistic revitalization, promote mixed-income development, and help existing homeowners and first-time buyers live and remain in their homes.
- Create a Tenant/Landlord University to model best practices to improve tenant/landlord relationship.
All too often we see examples of local policies created in a vacuum without the input of those that are most affected. Happily, this is not an example of that. It is great to see the city develop a housing policy that is responsive to the needs of the community and provides creative solutions to complex issues.
The public release of the housing plan is just one step in what I am sure will be a challenging process of ensuring the stated policies are enacted. Fortunately, some council members are moving quickly to pass a series of measures before the end of the year. A few of the measures that are currently under consideration by city council include:
- Creation of a housing trust fund. The initial financing of $15 million will be exclusively with city money; $10 million would come from an increase on out-of-state online purchases of more than $2,000, and $5 million from the central city sales tax revenue.
- A resolution to perform a nexus study to evaluate the establishment of residential inclusionary zoning requirements. The resolution also asks that the city manager prepare within 30 days a plan and timeline for implementation of a program that includes inclusionary zoning.
- An ordinance requiring that at least 15 percent of all new residential construction receiving tax abatements or other incentives include units affordable for households making up to 80 percent of the city’s median income.
- An ordinance that would temporarily relax property code enforcement for people rehabilitating vacant homes.
The importance of community input throughout this process is important to highlight. Continued engagement with the same residents that provided input during the public meetings is a crucial component to the progression of policy discussions.
We look forward to seeing a feedback loop where these conversations do not just occur on the 26th floor of City Hall, but are taken back to the communities that voiced their concerns and their ideas to help shape the policy that will ultimately have an impact on all of Kansas City.