Kansas needs ‘increased investment’ in all housing categories, realtor groups says

Kansas needs ‘increased investment’ in all housing categories, realtor groups says

February 11, 2022 0 By Bob Pepalis

An increased cost in construction materials and a shortage of skilled labor has kept home building in Kansas from satisfying the demand at all levels, according to a real estate industry representative.

The housing shortage hasn’t just happened overnight, Mark Tomb, vice president of governmental affairs for the Kansas Association of Realtors, told The Center Square. The lag in housing production has occurred for a number of years where new houses coming online did not meet the demand, he said.

“I think there really truly needs to be increased investment in, really, all categories of housing,” Tomb said.

The problem also involves right sizing for homeowners. A lot of competition exists for the middle class and first-time homebuyers. Kansans ready to move into a more expensive home are finding that none are available, and they don’t move out of homes that normally would be a first-time home for another family.

“So there’s simply competition for the same housing. And so supporting housing at all levels can free up some of that housing for lower and middle income,” Tomb said.

The state of Kansas’ Moderate-Income Housing (MIH) program in December awarded eight communities a total of $2 million to develop affordable housing. Cities or counties with populations of less than 60,000 are eligible for MIH grants, loans to develop housing, or for homeownership programs.

That investment will create a net gain of 83 affordable homes for rural Kansas communities, the Kansas Housing Corp said.

Gov. Laura Kelly’s budget called for a $20 million investment into housing, justifying the funding based on a statewide housing needs assessment.

“The state, for the first time in I think nearly 30 years, conducted a statewide housing needs assessment,” Tomb said. “And so that really showed that there’s an affordable housing in the middle class and a moderate-income housing shortage.”

The $20 million investment program would allow the state to fund more projects. Part of it would be used to help workforce housing to be more strategic in how the money is used.

“Housing becomes a limitation, or the lack of housing becomes a limitation to economic development,” Tomb said.

The statewide housing needs assessment highlights the problems, he said.

“We’ve seen a few things like the rural housing incentive districts that were expanded last year which is a great program,” Tomb said.

The state can’t use a single approach to its housing shortages, he added.

“You need multiple tools. Any tools that are going to be geared towards rural Kansas and other tools that might be better suited for more urban areas,” Tomb said. “So you really just can’t come into it thinking it’s a one size fits all kind of a problem.”

This article was originally posted on Kansas needs ‘increased investment’ in all housing categories, realtor groups says