Enews 3-4-21: Housing for All Task Force; Wages and Cost of Living in Johnson County

Johnson County Housing For All Task Force Underway

UCS, in partnership with Johnson County and its municipalities, recently launched the Housing for All Task Force, the next phase in a multi-year Healthy Communities Initiative addressing safe, stable, and attainable housing in Johnson County. Building on the findings from the recently released Johnson County Municipalities Community Housing Study, the Task Force brings together individuals from various sectors of the community, such as educators, employers, developers, residents, healthcare and social service providers, and community leaders to identify and develop implementation opportunities that best fit the goals and needs of the different cities and the County.

The Task Force will complete its work over the course of four virtual workshops. Two of the four planned Task Force workshops were completed in February, with more than 100 participants joining each workshop. The first workshop took a deep look at data and recommendations from the Housing Study, while the second workshop focused on market realities related to housing in Johnson County and the region. The remaining two workshops will be completed by the end of March and will focus on racial equity and inclusion, and the development of recommendations for a housing toolkit.

Goals for the Task Force include:

  • Review and provide feedback on the findings from the Housing Study, including demographic and economic profile data, vision, goals, and strategies.
  • Discuss barriers and opportunities related to safe, stable, and attainable housing in Johnson County.
  • Explore and evaluate potential strategies to achieving safe, stable, and attainable housing in Johnson County, including potential tools and action steps.
  • Develop the framework for the Housing for All Toolkit with recommendations customized for the various housing opportunities and challenges of each Johnson County municipality.

Each workshop includes breakout groups who will work together throughout this process to inform recommendations around four topic areas. Topics include:

  • Market Realities - Reduce Costs & Share Risk;
  • Moving People from Not in My Backyard (NIMBY) to Yes in My Backyard (YIMBY);
  • Preserving Existing Attainable Housing & Choice;
  • Addressing Socio-Economic Challenges.

With these topics in mind, participants will work to identify barriers, opportunities, and potential strategies to address housing challenges in Johnson County.

Kristy Baughman, Director of Education and Planning at UCS, said “This work would not be possible without the participation of our community members. The broad sector representation really gives this work meaning and emphasizes that this is an issue that touches everyone in Johnson County.”

Facilitated by Shockey Consulting Services, LLC, the Task Force brings together public funding and private grant support which includes the Health Forward Foundation and Evergy.

If you would like to be a part of the solution by participating in the Housing for All Task Force, please sign up here.

Thousands of Johnson County Jobs Pay Below the Living Wage

As Congress considers changes to the federal minimum wage to $15.00/hour, we take a look at how wages in Johnson County compare to the cost of living. There are many in the Johnson County community who earn less than what it costs to live in the county. According to the Economic Policy Institute Family Budget Calculator, a single adult would need to earn more than $17.00 per hour (or $34,800 for full-time year-round work) to cover the cost of living in Johnson County, which includes costs of housing, transportation, food, healthcare, taxes, and childcare. For one adult with two children, the living wage is more than $35.00/hour, or $73,300 annually.

In Johnson County, nearly 119,000 jobs have a median salary below the living wage of $17.00/hour. That includes more than 59,000 jobs paying median wages below $15.00 per hour. Learn more in our latest fact sheet.

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