New programs will help Kansas address rural housing, employee issues

If Kansas wants to combat decades of rural flight and population decline, it needs to invest in affordable housing.

Easier said than done. Across the state, the housing stock is aging, cost of supplies are increasing and often in rural areas it can be hard to see a return on your investment swiftly. Thus many affordable homes simply aren’t in great condition or in the ideal location.

The Topeka Capital-Journal’s Andrew Bahl reports local governments across the state say their communities have open jobs — but nowhere for those workers to live. For example in Sterling, Bahl reports, the 2,200-person town in Rice County has approximately 4,000 jobs, a result of new industrial projects that will continue growing.

But the housing supply isn’t there for those workers to live in town, with some forced to commute from as far away as Wichita, a 75-minute drive each way.

We need to fix this.

And lawmakers are working on it. Bahl reports a suite of new state programs signed into law by Gov. Laura Kelly last week, as well as more funds for existing incentives, state officials are hoping more communities can push toward creating spaces people can and would want to call home.

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