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Advocates Push Kansas Lawmakers for More Affordable Housing

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TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) – Kansas lawmakers are considering expanding an economic incentive program to build affordable housing in the state’s larger cities like Wichita. The incentive currently allows rural cities to issue bonds to build up to 100 residential starter homes. As home values grow, the new property tax generated is used to pay off the bonds.

Hugh Carter, with the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, says the incentive is necessary because developers aren’t investing in affordable homes. “If there’s such great demand for this work force type housing, why aren’t builders building it?,” he said. “And the economics of building a 16,000- square-foot home or smaller just don’t pencil out.”

Affordable housing in Kansas has become scarce in recent years. A 2021 statewide housing assessment found about one in four Sedgwick County renters spend more than 30% of their income on housing.

The existing incentive allows rural cities to issue bonds to pay for the development of up to 100 residential starter homes. Senator Robert Olson, of Olathe, introduced the bill to expand the incentive to more populated cities. “In my community, affordable housing for people at the bottom, it’s just disappeared,” he said. “We’re trying to get more starter housing for people at the bottom.”

The bill passed the Senate in February and still needs to pass the House.

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