Support for Places for People Plan

By Ann Fox, Executive Director

The Wichita City Council gathered on Nov. 24, 2020, for a workshop on the implementation of the Places for People plan.  After serving on the Urban Infill Committee to develop recommendations I was able to speak on behalf of Wichita Habitat for Humanity to support the implementation of the recommendations.  

  1. Non-profits can’t meet the affordable housing need in our community alone.  We are grateful for the HUD funding channeled to our affordable housing organizations, but it is a drop in the bucket for what is needed.  We need market-rate providers to work beside us to make significant progress on new home and repair projects needed to revitalize our aging central residential areas. One in 9 Kansas families pays more than 50% of their income for housing.  The affordable housing need is great,  especially at a time when people rely on their homes for so much.  The Places for People recommendations for zoning overlays, a landbank and incentives for revitalization work in the core area are all needed to make progress in redeveloping the area.    
  2. When it comes to living things, a forest is more sustainable than an orchard.  The Established Central Area is the one place where we have a diversity of housing types.  Single-family residential and multi-family units are intermixed; different socio-economic levels live side by side and commercial locations at major intersections provide the coffee shops, restaurants, book stores, dry cleaners, hair salons – that create a neighborhood feel for residents near our vibrant downtown.  This kind of diversity is possible in our core, unlike subdivisions where families are really segregated by income level. This diversity can result in really strong neighborhoods and communities.  We may recruit talent with apartment complexes, but to put down roots young families need affordable single-family homes, without a commute, and near the many employment opportunities in hospitality, healthcare and in the many new office buildings downtown.  Living closer to work helps modest income workers manage within their budgets.
  3. Please Stay the Course. We have this fabulous downtown. How did we get it? The Chung Report says that Downtown redevelopment began to gain traction when public/private partnerships were created and long term strategic planning was coordinated beginning in 2002.   We appreciate the political will to move toward the implementation of the Places for People recommendations. We believe it will take similar sustained effort and coordination to significantly impact our residential areas in the established areas, and we appreciate the opportunity of the land bank, zoning efficiencies and incentives for developers working in these areas.