Event Summary: 2021 UCS Human Service Summit
Building Healthy Communities = Raising the Bar
UCS brought together more than 100 community members, service providers, elected officials, and educators for the 2021 Human Service Summit showcasing the recently finalized Johnson County Municipalities Housing for All Toolkit, and facilitating discussions focusing on Racial Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. Held virtually, the Summit was highly interactive, providing opportunities for participants to engage in breakout discussions, question and answer sessions, and online polls.
Sheila Shockey of Shockey Consulting introduced the newly released Housing for All Toolkit, the culmination of the work of the Housing for All Task Force, which came together for four workshops in February and March of 2021 to help craft an action plan based upon the community’s new Housing Study. The Task Force identified key barriers, opportunities, and potential strategies related to addressing housing challenges in Johnson County. Shockey Consulting gathered Task Force contributions and combined them with recommendations included in the Housing Study and additional research to create the Toolkit.
The Summit presentation covered highlights from the Toolkit, including a review of the five goals and accompanying recommendations that make up the greater part of the Toolkit:
- Preserve and rehabilitate existing housing stock
- Reduce overall household expenses so housing is more affordable
- Increase the variety of housing product types, especially middle density
- Incentivize production of affordable and attainable housing stock by sharing risk, reducing gaps in the private market, and funding housing
- Build affordable and attainable housing advocacy
The Housing for All Toolkit can be explored and downloaded on the UCS website.
Throughout UCS’s work on attainable housing solutions, housing challenges intersected with many other challenges in our community, including racial equity and inclusion (REI). This year’s Summit provided an opportunity for deeper discussion and exploration of REI. Co-Chairs of Governor Kelly’s Commission on Racial Equity and Justice Dr. Tiffany Anderson, Superintendent of Topeka Public Schools, and Dr. Shannon Portillo, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, University of Kansas Edwards Campus & the School of Professional Studies and Professor in the School of Public Affairs & Administration at the University of Kansas shared a presentation on the work of the Commission. In addition to discussing the background and history of the Commission, Dr. Anderson and Dr. Portillo discussed the formation and goals of three subcommittees: Economic Systems, Education, and Healthcare. The Commission has submitted one report to Governor Kelly on law enforcement and policing, and will be submitting a second report in July 2021 concentrating on:
- Early Childhood and Child Care
- Federal Legislation and Funding
- Tax Policy
- Teacher Diversity
- Maternal and Child Health
- Vaccine Equity
Following their presentation, Dr. Anderson and Dr. Portillo joined Sean Casserley, Director of the Johnson County Library which convenes Race Project KC, and Trey Williams, Race & Equity Editor for The Kansas City Star, for a panel discussion on Racial Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging in Action. The panel, moderated by UCS Executive Director, Julie Brewer discussed Racial Equity, Inclusion and Belonging from a variety of perspectives. Dr. Anderson and Dr. Portillo brought a state-level perspective, while Trey Williams was able to bring a regional perspective, and Sean Casserly presented a Johnson County perspective.
Summit attendees participated in breakout discussions following the Housing for All Toolkit launch and the panel discussion. In both discussions, attendees were asked to reflect on what they could do to move our community forward on the issues presented during the Summit. Community engagement was a common theme across nearly all breakout discussions. Participants spoke of the need for individuals to come together to advocate for the housing changes they want to see, and the importance of sharing the Housing Toolkit. In the REI discussions, participants shared the necessity of having difficult conversations, and finding ways to ensure that everyone has a place at the table.
UCS appreciates all the Summit participants and were thrilled with the level of participation and engagement from attendees for the half day virtual event. Many thanks to this year’s Summit sponsors: Roxann Kerr Lindsey, Tom Herzog, Maury and Angie Thompson, Fred and Carol Logan, Gary and Carlene Anderson, Johnson County Community College Foundation, MARC, CBIZ, REACH Healthcare Foundation, and United Way of Greater Kansas City.