Shawnee co-living ban garners national scrutiny — Here’s what you need to know

An aerial view of downtown Shawnee, where the city has focused a lot of its energy toward redevelopment. Those efforts are just part of the overall Achieve Shawnee comprehensive plan.

The ordinance bans renting to four or more people who are unrelated. Some social media critiques and national press coverage have said the move "effectively bans roommates." Above, downtown Shawnee. Photo credit Russell Pearson.

A recent Shawnee City Council decision to ban “co-living” arrangements has drawn accusations of classism, racism and a callous disregard for the people struggling to afford homes and apartments in Johnson County.

Since it was approved unanimously a week ago, Shawnee’s decision has made news well beyond the Kansas City metro, with one national publication saying the city had “effectively [made] roommates illegal.”