Ensuring attainable housing choice options remains a high priority for the Board of County Commissioners. A housing market and needs assessment study, involving Johnson County, its 19 city partners and United Community Services was recently concluded. On Thursday, April 8, during a Committee of the Whole meeting, the board got the opportunity to hear a summary of the 319-page draft study results.
“The study is the culmination of nearly four years of work around the health priority issue of safe, stable, attainable housing,” said United Community Services of Johnson County Executive Director Julie Brewer. “Where you live, learn, work, play and pray impacts your health.”
The work began in July of 2017, with grant support from the Kansas Health Foundation’s Healthy Community initiative and REACH Healthcare Foundation. UCS convened the Johnson County Health Equity Leadership team made up of a wide range of community organizations, businesses and cities. The leadership team spent a year conducting research and community listening, which led to the identification of housing as a priority health issue for the county.
The county and cities-supported community housing study was a key component of a Healthy Community Initiative and included demographic profiles, economic analysis, listening sessions and surveys with residents, employers and rental property owners/managers.
In reviewing the study results, Brewer also shared that the most recent Census data showed approximately 40% of Johnson County renters were housing cost burdened, meaning they’re paying more than 30% of their income on housing. The same was true for 18% of homeowners. Brewer also shared that on average, during the last five years, more than 138,000 Johnson County jobs fell into three occupational groups – office and administration support; sales; and food preparation and serving. These occupations, representing 40% of all jobs in the county, have a median annual wage of between $20,039-$35,480.
Brewer says if you look beyond occupations, you can also see income disparities by race and gender.
The community housing study includes data that shows:
Goals from the study include:
In addition to the study, that was completed at the end of 2020, a community housing task force was also convened and began its work in February 2021. More than 200 community members signed up to participate in the task force. The housing study and task force were facilitated by UCS and its consultants. UCS is a partner in the county’s efforts to identify and work toward solutions for issues impacting our community, such as housing, food, health care access, and other basic needs.
In response to the presentation surrounding homelessness and housing affordability, the BOCC formed a subcommittee to follow up on the housing study and offer suggestions for next steps for the commission. A toolkit will be offered in the coming months to communities to implement solutions.