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City of Manhattan News

Posted on: February 11, 2020

How can the city help solve the problem of affordable housing?

attendees at rental housing forum

The City of Manhattan’s Community Survey has routinely shown the lack affordable housing as a major issue for residents. In 2019, 50.1% of the survey respondents said that they were dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied, with the availability of affordable housing. In 2017, that number was 52%. The Riley County Needs Assessment, conducted by the Flint Hills Wellness Coalition and Wichita State University, has shown affordable housing as a major issue.

In order to develop a data-driven response to the concerns, City of Manhattan staff proposed a Housing Market and Analysis and Policy Strategy Study, which was already approved for the 2020 budget year. At this week’s Commission meeting, the Community Development Department presented further discussion topics and a draft of the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) which will be presented for vote at the February 18 City Commission Meeting.

Staff intends to advertise for an experienced and qualified consultant to conduct demographic and housing market data collection and analysis, and to generate housing policy recommendations to help complete the Study.

The purpose of the Study will be to develop a comprehensive approach to provide suitable housing for Manhattan residents, now and in the future.  Suitable housing means that housing is appropriate in size (e.g. number of bedrooms, square footage), type (e.g. detached home, townhome, apartment), of good quality and code compliant, within the price range for the household’s income, and in the general desired location (e.g. near employment, schools, and shopping).

“Having appropriate and affordable housing is important to attract and retain a talented workforce for the region," said Deputy City Manager Jason Hilgers.

The study will also help determine whether urban densification or continued sprawl and expansion is the best course for the future. With an urbanization approach, existing infrastructure can be leveraged to serve more people. If the community sprawls outward instead, additional infrastructure would be needed in order to meet demands.

"The different approaches have a major impact on where the City focuses infrastructure spending in the future," said Hilgers.

More information will be shared at the February 18 Commission Meeting and further details are available in the February 6 Commission Memo at https://cityofmhk.com/DocumentCenter/View/57368/Item-6A-DiscussionManhattan-Housing-AnalysisStrategy-StudyDraft-RFQ

Commission Memo
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