Johnson County has identified resources to work with community stakeholders to help address homelessness and housing insecurity in our county. The county has a variety of existing programs that serve residents who are experiencing housing challenges and has recently allocated millions of dollars towards this issue. This is a place to learn more about these efforts.
The Board of County Commissioners' Housing Subcommittee has completed its initial efforts. The results of the 2021 Johnson County Housing Study were released in 2021.
They were presented to the Board of County Commissioners on April 8, 2021 at a Committee of the Whole. At that meeting, the BOCC created the Housing Subcommittee with Commissioners Allenbrand, Fast and Hanzlick to work with community partners and county staff and address where county government has opportunities and potential resources to address housing needs identified in the housing study, including affordable housing and homelessness.
On Sept. 30, 2021, the Housing Subcommittee made its initial report to the BOCC. The report summarized the role of the subcommittee, its process and made recommendations for three primary areas where county government has unique opportunities to support the recommendations of the 2021 Housing Study.
This report out also included a document entitled Johnson County Housing Continuum. It graphically depicts the spectrum from chronically homeless to cost-burdened homeowners. It also includes current resources, results and recommendations.
The Housing Subcommittee reported back to the BOCC on April 28, 2022. At that meeting the subcommittee made the recommendations to address homelessness, preserve existing housing and develop attainable housing and homeownership opportunities. (More details are available in this report.)
On April 6, 2023, the BOCC housing subcommittee presented its final report to the full board. That report included the background of the subcommittee’s work, outcomes and next steps. The report is available here. The subcommittee met its goal of providing direction for future opportunities and the work will now continue with county staff and partners, led by Housing Coordinator Megan Foreman.
In July 2023, Johnson County received a report with cover letter from Dignity Project that built on a series of studies to consider action to address homelessness. The County helped fund the report as part of a planning grant to explore the need for and viability of a homeless shelter in the community.
The report outlines a 50-bed, non-congregate shelter for adults experiencing temporary or sporadic homelessness, staffed 24/7. It recommends the shelter include services like intensive case management and wrap-around services with a goal to stabilize and re-launch clients into permanent housing after about a 90-day stay.
County staff will use the report to inform their next steps on this topic, including assessing how best to use one-time funds set aside to address homelessness, and convening a representative board of community members and stakeholders to formalize plans.
On June 8, 2023, the Board approved a request from Chair Kelly to authorize the County Manager’s Office to review and evaluate the feasibility of establishing a Housing Trust Fund.
A Housing Trust Fund would support the preservation of affordable housing and develop additional financing mechanisms to increase the number of affordable homes in the county.
On Nov. 17, 2022, the BOCC authorized $1 million investment of HOME Funds for Prairiebrook Townhomes. Sixty of the 76 units will be low income. This is a Low Income Housing Tax Credit project.
On May 26, 2021, the BOCC authorized a $1 million loan to partially finance the construction of a new affordable housing apartment complex in Shawnee. This was the first time Johnson County Government has provided funding for this type of project.
On Nov. 17, the BOCC approved thousands of dollars of funding to address homelessness in Johnson County through two funding mechanisms, facilitated by United Community Services of Johnson County:
The allocation of $142,527 of 2023 Johnson County Alcohol Tax Funds included $75,000 for a program that helps individuals experiencing substance abuse as well as homelessness to access services and address underlying conditions. It also included $60,000 for Friends of Recovery Association’s Oxford Houses. These are transitional homes for those recovering from substance abuse, including adults who are experiencing homelessness or in danger of homelessness.
The allocation of $151,500 for the 2023 Human Services Fund included funding for several initiatives including transitional housing, shelter, meals, transportation and case management for homeless youth, families and single adults.
On June 8, 2023, the Board allocated $950,000 to fund infrastructure costs (such as streets, sidewalks and streetlights) for the Olathe Pathway Project, a proposed Habitat for Humanity project at 159th Street and Black Bob Road in Olathe. If final project plans are approved by the City of Olathe, Habitat for Humanity of Kansas City is planning to build homes for low-income families in new a pocket neighborhood. The county funding for this project is contingent upon formal approvals from the City of Olathe.
Buyers would qualify if they have incomes between 30 and 80 percent of area median income. At the high end, that’s roughly $54,000 for an individual or more, depending on household size. The subsidized mortgages make homeownership available to residents working in fields such as public education, public safety, childcare, home health care or logistics park operations.
In a housing market where supply is not meeting demand, many landlords can easily fill vacancies without having to take on renters with vouchers. For some landlords it’s not worth the extra paperwork. As a potential solution, on June 8, 2023, the Board approved $200,000 to fund a pilot program that would provide landlords with financial incentives to rent their units to low-income tenants with federally funded housing subsidy vouchers. Landlords can get a signing bonus, and if they accept tenants with vouchers, they can get paid two months' worth of extra rent.
The amount of money landlords would receive would vary depending on the size of the unit. The pilot program would not meet all of the existing needs for voucher-holders, but will allow housing officials to determine the right mix of incentives that encourages landlord participation.
Also on June 8, the BOCC allocated $50,000 to another pilot program for landlord risk mitigation. If a vouchered tenant causes damage or breaks a lease by moving out early, the landlord can make a claim and recoup money from the fund. That's in addition to keeping the security deposit. Learn more about the landlord incentive program.
In April 2020, the BOCC accepted an allocation of $116,311,033 in CARES Act funds. One component of the framework of the county’s allocation of those federal dollars included investing 30% to community reinvestment in five BOCC-approved areas, one of which was Housing. As part of that spending plan, Johnson County:
In all, the county reinvested $1.9 million of CARES Act funding for housing support.
At a Committee of the Whole on June 16, 2022, staff presented a framework for distribution of the Local Fiscal Recovery Funds in the amount of $117,009,332. The framework included recommendations for funding for supporting those experiencing homelessness as well as affordable housing.
On Oct. 20, the BOCC allocated $2,085,000 for the purpose of funding direct community investment programs to address housing and food insecurity. You can learn more in this briefing sheet and this report.
Feasibility Study for a Community Homeless shelter
Utility Assistance through Aging & Human Services
Cold Weather Response - Hotel Voucher Shelter & Case Management
Project 10/20 Infrastructure Shelter Requirements to Meet Lenexa Code
Homeless Management Information Software (Caseworthy)
Food Insecurity Program (40 Pantries at $20,000 Each)
Johnson County Government includes several departments that provide direct services to vulnerable populations who are at risk for or experiencing homelessness. Targeted services seek to address the root causes of homelessness by providing wrap-around services and case management.
The Johnson County Mental Health Center addresses homelessness and affordable housing needs through these initiatives:
Homeless Street Outreach. Two FTEs funded through State Mental Health Grant Funds and an Emergency Solutions Grant focus on connecting people experiencing homeless to essential resources such as healthcare, food/shelter, housing and benefits programs.
Permanent Supportive Housing. Twenty-one units for homeless adults with severe/persistent mental Illness provide permanent housing coupled with supportive services, funded by HUD.
Homeless “Set-Aside” Vouchers. Ten Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8) through partnership with the Johnson County Housing Authority are reserved for people with mental illness experiencing homelessness.
Transitional Housing/Breakthrough House. This includes two beds for homeless adults with mental illness, prioritizing people exiting institutions into homelessness (hospitals, nursing facilities, jail). It provides approximately six months of room/board to assist those individuals in transitioning to permanent housing, funded by State Mental Health Grant Funds.
Supported Housing Funds. These funds are targeted to prevent/end homelessness among the population with Severe Mental Illness and/or Substance Use Disorders. It's funded by Kansas Department of Aging and Disabilities Services funds, shared by Community Mental Health Centers across the state.
A 60-day, rent free, non-custodial bed is designated for justice-involved, homeless individuals. A Problem-Solving Bed provides individuals with a safe environment, employment services, transportation, and three meals per day. A PSB allows individuals opportunities to gain employment and save money to ensure a successful transition back into the community.
Department of Health and Environment staff are engaged in coalitions or programs administered by other agencies/entities, while others provide referrals to other agencies/organizations that have housing programs.
The Olathe School District administers Project Impact as part of the federal Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program (authorized by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act).
One of our social workers, Lisa Erlinger-Teel, participates in a collaborative program with several other community organizations (e.g., Health Partnership Clinic, El Centro, Kansas Department of Children and Families, etc.).
These agencies provide a forum twice a month for families experiencing or at risk for homelessness to come and get information about services, etc. The agencies also discuss what services are needed and assist each other in making those services available to families.
Community Health Workers
Community Health Workers in our department regularly work with clients to provide resources on a wide range of issues, such as food pantry assistance, assistance with filling out SNAP applications, KanCare, etc.
When CHWs have a client that is experiencing, or at risk for, homelessness, they try to connect them with other organizations (e.g., Salvation Army, Johnson County Interfaith Hospitality Network).
Utility Assistance Program
Aging and Human Services' Utility Assistance program attempts to help residents pay on utility bills so they can remain on or can be turned back on.
Rental Assistance Program
Under the Rental Assistance program, five cities provide a small amount of money to help with rental assistance.
Staff works closely with Project Home and Impact Olathe to help identify students and families that are on the verge of homelessness. These programs are made up of community organizations, such as schools, churches and social service agencies.
Housing Choice Voucher Program
The Housing Choice Voucher Program is a federally funded program designed to provide subsidies to very low and extremely low income families, allowing them to locate decent, safe housing while maintaining rental payments at an affordable level.
The HOME Program assists eligible homeowners of Johnson County, Kansas with rehabilitation needs of their owner-occupied homes. Health and safety, accessibility and curing local code citations may be addressed through the HOME Program.
Share your input on needs to be addressed in the 2024 HOME program during a public hearing on March 8.
Minor Home Rehabilitation Program
The Minor Home Rehabilitation program assists eligible Johnson County homeowners with home repairs and provides limited accessibility modifications for eligible persons with a disability.
The program addresses repairs that, if left unattended, would have a direct impact on the health and safety of, or accessibility for, the homeowner. Repair work focuses on mechanical systems in the home, and devices or modifications, to make the home accessible.
The Community Development Block Grant program provides annual grants on a formula basis to states, cities, and counties. The funding aims to provide decent housing and a suitable living environment, and expand economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons.
Interested in applying for the Community Development Block Grant? Non-profit 501c3 and cities within Johnson County, see the Application Handbook for more information.
The Emergency Solutions Grants program assists people to quickly regain stability in permanent housing after experiencing a housing crisis and/or homelessness. The program previously focused on shelters and now focuses on housing solutions.
Interested in applying for the Emergency Solutions Grant? See the Quick Reference Guide for more information.
The federally funded Emergency Water Assistance Program, facilitated through the Kansas Department for Children and Families, will provide a one-time financial benefit to qualifying Kansas households.
This benefit helps restore or prevent disconnection of water by paying past due or disconnected drinking water or wastewater bills.
Interested in applying for the Emergency Water Assistance Program? Learn more about this program and see if your household qualifies.
333 E. Poplar Street A, Olathe, KS 66061
Overland Park Location
9806 W. 87th Street, Overland Park, KS 66212
Hillcrest Ministries of MidAmerica (Transitional Housing for Youth)
401 N Spring Street, Independence, MO 64050
Johnson County Interfaith Hospitality Network (Stability Program for Homeless Families and Single Women)
6315 W. 110th Street, Overland Park, KS 66211
Salvation Army (Emergency Assistance and Homeless Shelter)
420 E. Santa Fe Street, Olathe, KS 66061