Human Service Summit

Summary Report:
2020 UCS Human Service Summit — Build Our Housing Future


UCS' 2020 Human Service Summit was unique in many aspects this year. The Summit gathered the approximately 170 attendees on a highly interactive virtual platform that included small breakout sessions, interactive Q&A, and participant polls. Additionally, the Summit featured an early look at the Johnson County Municipalities Community Housing Study – the first study of its kind for the county since 2004. Finally, the event gave an overview of the soon to be launched Housing Task Force which is tasked with moving the study’s findings and recommendations to the planning and implementation phase.

Amy Haase and Charlie Cowell of RDG Planning and Design, the consultants leading the housing study, provided an early look at the data from the study and the recently completed resident survey. More than 4,500 Johnson County residents and employees completed the survey, sharing their thoughts on issues such as availability of attainable housing and rental options at various price points, thoughts on current housing conditions and which types of housing solutions and options would be most appealing. The RDG consultants also conducted approximately 19 virtual listening sessions throughout the county across multiple community sectors. Click here for the Summit Presentation Materials and Program.

The event also was an opportunity to introduce the next phase of the effort to address safe, stable, and attainable housing needs in Johnson County. The next step will be to form a multi-sector Housing Task Force. This work will be led by Sheila Shockey of Shockey Consulting. The Task Force will be comprised of representatives throughout the nineteen cities and the county, representing a wide variety of sectors to leverage a broad range of lived experiences, perspectives, and interests to build community support for the implementation of housing strategies. If you are interested in learning more and participating in the Housing Task Force, please click here to sign up.

The Summit included a multi-sector panel discussion on housing, moderated by Steve Kraske, host of KCUR’s Up to Date. Panelists included:

  • Mayor Eric Mikkelson, City of Prairie Village
  • Qiana Thomason, President/CEO, Health Forward Foundation
  • Dennis Strait, AIA, ASLA, NCARB, LEED AP - Principal at Gould Evans
  • Maria Zuluaga, The Zuluaga Real Estate Group
  • Will Ruder, Executive Vice President, Homebuilders Association of Greater Kansas City

The panelists discussed a wide range of issues including how local municipalities can help lower the cost to build attainable housing; what role healthcare should have in responding to social issues that impact health—such as housing; what we are missing in our market that would help create more affordable options; and what the housing options are like for young professionals, seniors, young families, and the pool of what has become known as essential workers.

Attendees participated in small breakout listening sessions, discussing who they are most concerned about when it comes to finding stable, attainable housing in Johnson County; what options currently exist in their communities for lower income families and seniors; what role they think their community is willing to play in addressing housing demand by lower income households; and how the pandemic has changed or reinforced their opinion on ensuring availability of a variety of housing options for families across all income levels. The listening session discussions will be used as a component of the housing study’s research and report.

UCS appreciates all the Summit participants and were thrilled with the level of participation and engagement from attendees for the four-hour virtual event. Many thanks to this year’s Summit sponsors: Roxann Kerr Lindsay, Tom Herzog, Maury and Angie Thompson, Johnson County Community College, MARC, REACH Healthcare Foundation and United Way of Greater Kansas City. To learn more about the Johnson County Health Equity collaboration with the cities and the county to address housing needs, please go to: