JoCo residents are invited to share concerns about housing affordability

As part of an ongoing countywide study, United Community Services of Johnson County is inviting people from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences to participate in panel discussions on housing problems and solutions. Above, an apartment complex in Shawnee. File photo.

As part of an ongoing countywide study, United Community Services of Johnson County is inviting people from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences to participate in discussions about housing problems and potential solutions.

The local nonprofit is recruiting people to participate on what it’s calling “perspective panels,” which are set to take place virtually starting in January and going through next April.

UCS of Johnson County says it is recruiting participants through the end of this year. The signup webpage can be found here.

“We are wanting to get a diverse cross section of the community,” said Kathryn Evans, president of Rooted Strategy.

About 150 people already signed up

Evans shared details about the panels after leading virtual information sessions on how the nonprofit is aiming to tackle racial inequities, including housing issues, in Johnson County.

Evans noted that structural racism played a “significant role in Johnson County’s early residential development,” and today, racial segregation in the past created demographic patterns that maintain segregation today.

Kristy Baughman with UCS said the perspective panels are “essentially groups of people representing multiple sectors in our community.”

“We want to ensure that there are many perspectives across the task force as we move forward,” Baughman said, noting that UCS has about 150 people already signed up. “When we start our work in January, we will take the 150 — hopefully more — and move into facilitated breakout groups, with as many as the perspectives represented in each group as possible.”