Summit focuses on affordable housing challenges

Members of the First Suburbs Coalition, regional stakeholders and national experts attended a regional housing summit in Gladstone, Missouri, on July 19 to discuss workforce housing challenges and their impact on economic development in first-tier suburbs. The summit was the capstone event of a National League of Cities (NLC) Pilot Project launched in March.

The First Suburbs Coalition is made up of inner-ring suburbs around the urban core of the Kansas City metro — communities that are predominantly landlocked, with an aging housing stock. MARC applied for the NLC Pilot Project on behalf of the coalition, proposing to explore the connections between housing and economic development, and was selected from a pool of national applicants.

The Regional Housing Summit focused on challenges around housing affordability and economic development in first-tier suburbs, opportunities to build and maintain workforce housing, and best practices for regional solutions.

Workforce housing is defined as housing stock that is affordable to people earning from 60 to 120% of the area’s median income. When communities lack affordable housing, nurses, police officers, retail workers, child care workers and others are priced out of the market.

Speakers at the summit included Shannon Bird, state representative in the Colorado General Assembly, who discussed best practices in creating state and local partnerships, and the NLC’s Jim Brooks, who updated attendees on the work of NLC’s Housing Task Force. TIP Strategies donated technical assistance to the pilot project and presented an analysis of workforce housing challenges in the Kansas City region. TIP Strategies will complete its final report for the pilot project by October 31.

The pilot project and housing summit will be featured on a national stage at the NLC City Summit in San Antonio in November. The First Suburbs Coalition will work to implement the pilot project’s recommendations over the next year. Anticipated activities include sharing case studies of successful policies in the region and creating opportunities for cohorts of cities with similar housing issues to work together on joint solutions.