City of Wichita signals support to expand affordable housing

The City of Wichita is moving closer to making millions of dollars available to address affordable housing in the community.
Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 5:16 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - With funding available to address a glaring need, the Wichita City Council at its meeting Tuesday, approved a plan that ultimately can improve lives for Wichitans and their community. Wichita is moving closer to making $5 million available to address affordable housing in the city with the council’s approval of a retooled affordable housing fund plan.

The council’s move comes more than a year after the approval of the initial plan to expand affordable housing in the city. 12 News is taking a look at what the plan is meant to do and what it could mean for those putting in the work to address affordable housing in Wichita.

Habitat for Humanity is among developers that could benefit from the funding the city is looking to provide.

Homeownership is part of an aspirational American dream which for many, can be hard to reach.

“We always hear this number that we’re down 50,000 affordable housing units in Sedgwick County. There’s no shortage of studies,” said Wichita Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Danielle Jonson.

Wichita Habitat for Humanity is one group working to address this need by helping people buy and and build or repair homes.

“Change in quality of life, generational wealth and access to greater opportunities,” Johnson said.

The Wichita City Council on Tuesday approved updates to the city’s Affordable Housing Fund program, which makes $5 million available for affordable home construction, renovation and rehabilitation. The plan’s initial approval happened in 2022 through the use of COVID-19 funds but U.S. Treasure guidance would make it difficult to administer.

“(The) plan required an extensive period of affordability that was unfeasible for what the average homeowner is prepared for,” said City of Wichita Housing and Community Services Real Property Section Manager Sarah Gooding.

The plan now uses city general funds, links the Affordable Housing Fund with existing programs and provides more insight, especially for new home construction. The City of Wichita said this will only be accessible to non-profit or for-profit developers in good standing with the city who could be working on behalf of a homeowner.

“You have to have a solid knowledge of federal requirements and program navigation,” Gooding said. “We did make the decision that these funds as a whole will not be generally accessible by individual members of the public.

The affordable housing funding will target the central part of Wichita with a cap of $40,000 per unit.