Archive for Thursday, February 1, 2007

County to study affordable housing

February 1, 2007

The Johnson County Commission named an Affordable Housing Task Force as a communitywide effort to conduct a comprehensive review of current affordable housing needs and prepare a future action plan involving local governments, the housing industry and other stakeholders.

Creation of the task force was announced last Thursday by Johnson County Commission Chair Annabeth Surbaugh, who will chair the task force as one of the Future Focused Task Forces she established in 2005. The task forces were created to address future policy questions for Johnson County in an advisory capacity, to seek public input on certain issues, and to serve to the Johnson County Commission.

The Affordable Housing Task Force will be led by a steering committee co-chaired by Gary Anderson, who served as the 1st District County Commissioner from 1999 to 2003 and Paul Robben of Robben Development. Other members of the task force will be recruited in the near future with a goal of meeting for the first time in late February.

The county also plans to form several subcommittees to support and assist the task force in discussing, researching and providing a wide range of expertise in identifying specific problems, concerns and issues and developing solutions to address affordable housing in the county.

Official kickoff of the Affordable Housing Task Force will occur in April during the county's observance of Fair Housing Month.

"The affordable housing issue is not going away. Like it or not, we have to face up to the fact that Johnson County has growing pockets of citizens who are unable to achieve the good life, who struggle -- day in and day out -- to make ends meet and who cannot achieve the American dream of owning their own home," Surbaugh said.

Against the backdrop of a strong economy and vibrant home-building industry in Johnson County, the county is facing a growing shortage in housing affordability and availability affecting nearly every segment of the population, Surbaugh said.

The need for more affordable housing also was detailed in the "Johnson County Housing Market and Needs Analysis" in 2004. The comprehensive analysis was done by the Johnson County Community Development Department. Other partners in the study included Johnson County Housing Services, Olathe Housing Authority, Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City and United Community Services of Johnson County.

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