Managing Fiscal Analyst
Housing policy within the state of Kansas is similar to many other states in that it is comprised of programs and initiatives at the federal, state, and local level. Most federal housing programs in the 21st century are not directly administered but rather utilize state and local governments for implementation. In Kansas, the organization created to manage many of the federal and state housing initiatives is the Kansas Housing Resource Corporation. However, various programs are also handled directly by federal agencies, by other state agencies, or by local housing authorities such as those in Topeka, Kansas City, and Wichita.
Kansas Housing Resource Corporation
Originally established in 1992 as the Division of Housing with the Department of Commerce and Housing, the Kansas Housing Resource Corporation (KHRC) was created in 2003 as a self-sustaining, nonprofit, public corporation. The KHRC is tasked with overseeing the administration of all federal housing programs within the state as well as the State Housing Trust Fund (SHTF). The SHTF was created to hold all state funds designated for housing programs. It currently receives appropriations of $2.0 million a year from the State, which is used to fund the Moderate Income Housing Program.
Federal programs administered by the KHRC focus on five target audiences: homeowners, renters, individuals who are homeless, community services, and housing partners.
For homeowners, the KHRC provides funding to aid first-time homebuyers with down payment assistance and obtaining financing. The agency also administers a weatherization assistance program to aid low-income homeowners in increasing the energy efficiency of their home.
For renters, the KHRC primarily provides aid through rental assistance programs for low- income renters. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the KHRC has also administered emergency rental assistance programs to aid renters behind on their rent due to hardships created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Renters are also eligible for the weatherization assistance program to increase energy efficiency.
The Emergency Solutions Grants program administered by the KHRC provides funding to a network of service providers throughout the state to combat homelessness by helping to improve the number of quality emergency shelters, operate shelters, provide essential services for shelter residents, re-house homeless individuals and families, and prevent families and individuals from becoming homeless.
The Community Services Block Grants administered by the KHRC provide funding to eligible entities to serve low-income Kansans by helping alleviate causes and conditions of poverty within the community.
For housing partners, the largest of the target audiences, the KHRC oversees a multitude of programs that utilize federal funding as well as tax credits to incentive the private development of primarily rental housing within the state. This includes the Moderate Income Housing Program (MIHP), which is currently the only state-funded housing program.
The MIHP seeks to aid households who do not qualify for federal housing assistance by providing cities and counties with a population of less than 60,000 with funding to develop multi-family rental units and single-family for-purchase homes.
The Legislature has also established three housing programs within Kansas statute. First, KSA 58-4901 et seq. authorizes the establishment of First Time Homebuyer Savings Accounts. These accounts are tax exempt for all contributions and interest not to exceed $48,000 and are for the express purpose of paying eligible expenses when purchasing or constructing a home.
The second program is the Local Residential Housing Act (KSA 12-5219 et seq.), which allows local city and county governments to utilize public moneys and special obligation bonds to fund a variety of housing activities within the community. These activities include acquiring home mortgage loans from a lender, contracting with a lender to service home mortgage loans on behalf of the city or county, and making loans to a lender for the purpose of making home mortgage loans.
The final program is the Rural Housing Incentive District (RHID) Act (KSA 12-5241 et seq.), which authorizes cities and counties to assist directly in the financing of public improvements that support housing in rural areas of Kansas with a housing shortage. The Act allows for cities and counties that establish a RHID to utilize special obligations bonds for activities such as acquisition of property within the district, site preparation, or construction of infrastructure such as sewers, electric utilities, or sidewalks.