Housing & Healthy Communities’ Next Step – Release of the Johnson County Municipalities Community Housing Study
View here: 2021 Johnson County Housing Study
A project milestone has been reached with the release of the Johnson County Municipalities Community Housing Study. The study is a part of a multi-year Healthy Communities Initiative addressing safe, stable, attainable housing across all ages and stages of life for those who live, work or wish to call Johnson County home. “The study is the result of a diverse and dedicated partnership between the County, municipalities, and a wide range of community partners,” said UCS Executive Director Julie Brewer.
UCS, through grant support from the Kansas Health Foundation and REACH Healthcare Foundation, began convening the Johnson County Health Equity Network (HEN), a multisector collaborative of community partners in July of 2017. Through research, data analysis and community listening, HEN identified the priority issue of safe, stable, attainable housing as the foundation for health equity and a healthy Johnson County. In response to this priority health issue, Johnson County and the municipalities within the County partnered with UCS, engaged RDG Planning and Design, and invested in a housing market and needs assessment. RDG was recently selected to conduct Kansas’ statewide housing study.
The HEN has worked to raise awareness of the social determinants of health with a focus on housing as the foundation on which families build healthy and sustainable futures. Studies show that 50% of what contributes to our health outcomes can be attributed to our physical environment and our socio-economic circumstances. Where we live determines what resources and opportunities we can access, including the quality jobs that pay living wages, good schools, parks, libraries, grocery stores, and public transportation that are vital to health and well-being. Our surroundings shape the lifestyle choices that impact our long-term health.
The County, cities, and HEN partnership extends to a multi-sector Johnson County Municipalities Community Housing Task Force called Housing for All Task Force facilitated by Shockey Consulting Services, llc. The study and Task Force initiatives bring together public funding and private grant support which includes the Health Forward Foundation and Evergy. This partnership is an acknowledgement of shared goals and responsibilities in addressing county-wide housing needs.
The Task Force effort will use the data and recommendations from the Housing Study to identify and develop implementation opportunities that best fit identified goals and needs across the different cities. The first meeting of the Task Force is scheduled for Wednesday, February 10th, and includes 200 participants across all sectors, including residents impacted by housing issues in Johnson County.
In Johnson County in 2018, 20% of homeowners with a mortgage and 43% of renters were considered to be housing cost burdened—or paying more than 30% of their gross income on housing. When families pay increasingly larger proportions of their income on housing, they experience negative health impacts. These may include foregoing basic medical care, moving frequently or facing evictions, high stress levels that impact physical and mental health, long commute times, limited money for healthy foods, and a lack of quality social connections with family and friends.
Through community listening, working with area media, and our partners across community sectors, the HEN Leadership Team worked to create awareness and understanding of the impact access to safe, stable, attainable housing has to residents wellbeing across all ages and stages of life. Who can live and work in Johnson County shapes the vitality and sustainability of our community. The COVID-19 pandemic has shined the light on many sectors of our workforce that have been foundational to our ability to function as a community.
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