JoCo on the Go Podcast: Landlord Incentive Pilot Program

On episode #157 of JoCo on the Go, we discuss a new pilot incentive program available to landlords in Johnson County. The program provides financial incentives to rent to a family with a federally funded voucher for available units. Megan Foreman, housing coordinator for Johnson County, discusses the new effort and the importance of providing affordable housing for county residents. For more information on resources available to landlords, visit our For Landlords webpage.

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Andy Hyland 0:00 

Johnson County is always seeking to improve how it supports housing needs in our county. On this episode, we'll welcome some guests who can discuss the latest efforts and go into a bit more detail about how those efforts will help residents.

Announcer 0:13 

Whether you live in or just love Johnson County, Kansas, JoCo on the Go has everything Johnson County. Here's what's happening and what's coming up in the community you call home.

Andy Hyland 0:27 

Thanks for joining us for JoCo on the Go. I'm Andy Hyland, a Johnson County resident, and I work here in Johnson County communications. We're here today to talk about affordable housing and all the ways that Johnson County is trying to make that better. And joining us today is Megan Forman, housing coordinator for Johnson County. So Megan, welcome.

Megan Foreman 0:47 

Thank you.

Andy Hyland 0:48 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your role here?

Megan Foreman 0:51 

Sure. So I started just at the end of January. The role is a newly created position to really put some staff work behind a lot of the framework that the Board of County Commissioners' Housing Subcommittee came up with in their almost three years of study of the Housing Continuum of Johnson County. So this idea that we really have gaps in the sidewalk, along the way from chronic homelessness all the way to helping homeowners stay in their homes and keeping some of the existing homes on the market affordable. So we really, we look at everything from vulnerable populations, people who may have real particular or real special housing needs, renters, homeowners. And really, ultimately, what we're looking at is how do we put together the fabric, the quilt that makes up Johnson County? Can the people who provide services that we want to have in our community also afford to live here?

Andy Hyland 1:46 

Can you maybe tell us a little bit about why affordable housing is important in general? Why is it important that we focus on this topic?

Megan Foreman 1:54 

Sure. You know, for folks who maybe kind of dip into the news and then dip out, it might feel like the issue of affordable housing has kind of exploded into the public consciousness into the last maybe five years or so. And that's really, it's the product of a whole bunch of different reasons. But at the end of the day, we know that rents have gone up almost 50% in about a five-year period. And the cost of owning a home in Johnson County has also become really almost unattainable for a whole lot of people. So things have really, really moved and shifted very quickly. I will say United Community Services, along with Johnson County Government, worked with a whole host of other community groups to identify attainable housing as an equity issue that they really wanted to look at back in 2017. And I will say that some of the conversations that started some of this work were had been, and so there's been a whole lot of exploration, a lot of really great data that's been pulled together on the issue. And I think now, you know, we've kind of arrived at a tipping point, at a point of political pressure and really need in the community to address the issue in a really productive way.

Andy Hyland 3:12 

The Board took some action regarding landlords. And can you talk a little bit about what those programs were and what we might be seeing in the future here?

Megan Foreman 3:22 

Yeah, they did. So, you know, we know and along that Housing Continuum, that homeownership isn't right for every person, but those folks still need homes. And an apartment or a multifamily situation can offer that home to people. So we've had some challenges in our Housing Voucher Program lately that folks who are able to make it through the waitlist process and get approved for a federal housing voucher are having a really difficult time finding a landlord who will accept that voucher. So the program, the pilot program is intended to offer a couple of months of rent, kind of a like a signing bonus, if you will, for the landlord to accept a voucher holding tenant. And then the other component that kind of went along with that. We've done quite a bit of listening with the Johnson County Landlords Association and learning about the barriers that they have. Sometimes it's misconceptions, sometimes it's just not knowing about the program. And other times they've had experiences that are really kind of coloring the way that they might want to move forward. So in addition to the signing bonus for new landlords, we're also going to be able to offer a Risk Mitigation Fund, which allows the landlord to make claims if they've had a voucher holding tenant in a unit that caused damage or moved out early and basically broke their lease. They can apply for a reimbursement after they've already utilized the security deposit that came from that tenant. So just a little bit of extra insurance and a little bit of really us acting on the listening that we've been doing with our landlords to create a public-private partnership.

Andy Hyland 5:03 

Wonderful. Why are landlords so important to this process?

Megan Foreman 5:06 

Well, I mean, as I said, homeownership is not for everyone. And there's a, there's a whole variety of reasons that somebody may not want to own a home. And in Johnson County, they really, they are business owners, they're investors in these properties. And they are providing an important piece of the puzzle for our ecosystem of housing possibilities in Johnson County.

Andy Hyland 5:31 

Great. And I think the last thing that I wanted to talk about with you is the Board took some initial steps towards looking at the possibility of a study for a Housing Trust Fund. And so tell us a little bit about what that is and what that might look like.

Megan Foreman 5:47 

Right. So the Housing Subcommittee identified Housing Trust Funds as one possible tool in the toolbox that the county might explore further to continue to make progress along the Housing Continuum. So, you know, I think my marching orders and the marching orders for the County Manager's Office are to dig in a little bit on that, figure out how that might be financed, what the sort of stipulations might be, and look to other best practices that counties or cities have done. There's been a lot of good work by partners already in the Kansas City metro area, that we also want to take advantage of their learnings and see how we might apply them to potential next steps for increasing the number of attainable units that we have in the county.

Andy Hyland 6:33 

Thank you very much, Megan. I know you've been working hard since you started this work since you came into your position earlier this year. What do you think are some of the biggest strides you've seen so far as you do this work?

Megan Foreman 6:45 

Sure. Today's a big day. I think that, you know, I'm appreciative of the Board action to really move some of these pieces forward and tackle some parts, I think, along the Housing Continuum that we haven't had a chance to try before. The Habitat project certainly comes to mind but also the landlord pilot program. So I think, you know, we have more learning to do we have, we're gonna let these projects play out in the community and see what's next. I'm also excited, I think in the next few weeks, we're going to have a conversation around what we do for folks who are chronically homeless and how the county might build a big tent and invite some partners in to take action on yet another part of that Housing Continuum.

Andy Hyland 7:28 

Very good. Thanks so much.

Megan Foreman 7:30 

My pleasure.

Andy Hyland 7:31 

For more information on Johnson County's efforts in this area visit the Housing and Homelessness Assistance Guide on

Announcer 7:39 

You just heard JoCo on the Go. Join us next time for more everything Johnson County. Have a topic you want to discuss? We want to hear from you. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter at jocogov. For more on this podcast, visit Thanks for listening.

Planning, Housing and Community Development