LENEXA, Kan. — There is a new push to meet the desperate need for more affordable housing in Johnson County.
Johnson County Housing Services recently created its first-ever 'Landlord Recruiter' position.
Pam Harris has been in the role for a little less than three months.
"The role is exciting," Harris said. "It's challenging, but we're just really excited to be able to extend our services."
Harris will work to recruit and retain new and existing landlords to the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, formally known as Section 8, which provides housing to qualified participants. The program mostly serves people with disabilities and seniors.
Currently, the waiting list is closed and includes hundreds of names.
Harris has an ultimate goal for her role.
"We would have a waiting list of landlords," she said.
Harris wants landlords to know it's easy to work with JCHS. There's a long list of benefits they receive if they are a part of the program, which include free rental listings, timely rent payments and complimentary inspections.
Harris said more than anything, landlords in the program are helping the most vulnerable people in the community.
"We have participants that are really motivated to be good tenants," Harris said.
Julie Brewer, executive director of United Community Services of Johnson County, said data from the last 10 years shows a significant drop in affordable housing.
"Between 2007 and 2017, we had about 20,000 fewer homes available at those lower price ranges of $250,000 or below," Brewer said.
It's a complex issue without a simple fix, but Harris hopes the relationships she can build with landlords will be a start.
"This just falls right in line of what I like to do and really help educate the community and serve very worthy people," Harris said.
Harris is looking for property owners of single-family homes, town homes and duplexes that fall within the county's payment standards. She said any interested landlords can contact her through Johnson County Housing Services at 913-715-6600.