Lawrence City Commission to review statewide report on housing needs

photo by: Mike Yoder

Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., is pictured Thursday, July 7, 2016.

Lawrence city leaders will soon receive a presentation regarding a statewide report on Kansas’ housing needs.

As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will receive a presentation regarding the recently completed Kansas Statewide Housing Assessment Report. The commission, which in recent years has been working to address local affordable housing shortages, requested a presentation of the report after it was released last month.

The Kansas Housing Resources Corporation conducted the report, and KHRC Executive Director Ryan Vincent will present the report to the commission as part of the commission’s study session on Tuesday, according to a city staff memo to the commission. Vincent will discuss a high level statewide overview of the report’s findings and recommendations, as well as a regional assessment of themes, challenges and opportunities specifically regarding Douglas County.

The housing assessment was launched last year by the KHRC and the Office of Rural Prosperity, and was the state’s first comprehensive housing needs assessment in nearly 30 years, according to the memo. The assessment aimed to address a decades-long shortage of data on existing housing resources and current and projected needs.

The assessment analyzed the housing needs and market conditions for all regions of the state as well as for specific communities. An executive summary of the report highlights several key challenges that the state faces in meeting housing needs during the next 10 to 15 years. Those include a growing gap in the need and availability of middle-income housing; a lack of varying housing types; a need to preserve and reinvest in existing affordable units; and a need to address the building trades labor shortage.

The report looked at Douglas County and Shawnee County together, noting that there is a trending preference for people who work in Topeka to live in Douglas County. Some of the themes noted for Douglas County include an inconsistent review and approval process at times; the high cost of site development; and an unmet demand for smaller and lower maintenance options.

The report also looked at what percentage of renters and homeowners across Kansas were cost-burdened, which the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines as a household that spends more than 30% of its adjusted gross income on rent or mortgage and other housing costs, including utilities, taxes and insurance. According to the report, in 2019 about 48% of Douglas County renters were cost-burdened, and about 19% of Douglas County homeowners were cost-burdened.

The Lawrence City Commission will meet virtually at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, and some staff will be in place at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St. The public may attend the meeting in person at City Hall or participate virtually by following directions included in the commission’s meeting agenda, which is available on the city’s website,


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