Wichita residents invited to discuss affordable housing on Feb. 26

By Ainsley Smyth KLC Journal | February 20, 2024

Housing prices and rental rates have been on the rise in the Wichita area, and extensive discussions about homelessness are ongoing. The Wichita Journalism Collaborative is hosting a listening session on Feb. 26 to discuss the state of affordable housing in the community. File photo by Jeff Tuttle

Are you struggling to find quality affordable housing? Interested in becoming a homeowner? Concerned about homelessness?

In hopes of inviting the public to share their stories, opinions and questions about affordable housing, the Wichita Journalism Collaborative will host a community listening session later this month.

The event will take place from 5-6:30 p.m. at the Kansas Leadership Center 325 East Douglas.

The session will include a panel of local housing experts and small group discussions between community members.

One panelist is Dr. Stanley Longhofer, chair of real estate and finance at Wichita State’s Barton School of Business and director of the Wichita State Center for Real Estate.

The WSU Center for Real Estate conducts research on Kansas real estate and helps students connect with the industry.

“To me, the increase in housing costs that we’ve seen here recently have been really dramatic,” Longhofer said. “Not just here in Kansas, but across the country and at the same time, we’ve seen rental rates go up.”

Longhofer cited rising house prices, rent and construction costs as areas of concern for Kansas housing, and topics to discuss at the listening session.

Another panelist, Pete Nájera, is the president and CEO of United Way of the Plains.

“Everybody needs a place to live, and the question is, do we have enough housing for everybody?” Nájera said.

The panel will discuss this question and others posed by the community at the event.

United Way leads the Coalition to End Homelessness in Wichita/Sedgwick County and conducts the annual “point-in-time” count on homelessness, which took place on Jan. 25 this year.

Other panelists include Danielle Johnson, executive director of Wichita Habitat for Humanity, and Sally Stang, director of Housing and Community Services for the City of Wichita.

Feedback from the session will be used to find areas of priority for investigating the issue of housing and insight into how the community feels about these issues.

“I think it’s important for any community to have the data to see the housing challenge all the same way, presented in a thoughtful way, so that we can all see the same picture,” Nájera said. “If we see the same picture, then we can work together to develop a solution to it.”

The Wichita Journalism Collaborative is a cooperation between 11 news outlets and community partners that aims to grow and support journalism in and around Wichita.

Participants are The Active AgeThe Community VoiceThe Journal (Kansas Leadership Center), KMUWKSN-TVThe SunflowerThe Wichita BeaconThe Wichita Eagle, the Wichita Public LibraryPlaneta Venus and The Elliott School of Communication at Wichita State University.

The WJC is funded by Wichita Community Foundation’s News & Info Initiative. It was launched in Spring 2020 with the help of a $100,000 grant from the Solutions Journalism Network (SJN) based in New York City.

The listening session is in conjunction with the collaborative’s 18-month series, Priced Out: The Future of Wichita Housing which is exploring issues and solutions related to housing challenges in the Wichita area.

Collaborative partners have reported on barriers to affordable housing facing everyone from students to seniors, as well as the efforts of those tackling homelessness in the community.

Community members can register to attend the listening session here:


 Advanced registration is encouraged, but not required.

Ainsley Smyth, a student at Wichita State University, is the Spring 2024 semester intern for the Wichita Journalism Collaborative.