Improving Housing in Topeka

Housing in Topeka was the topic of the Nov 3, 2020, League of Women Voters Topeka-Shawnee County Tuesday Topics presentation by Topeka JUMP member Carol Babcock. She serves on the board of directors of Topeka JUMP and co-chairs the Housing Committee. We’ve included the recorded presentation of the virtual meeting and provided highlights below. The library is a partner with the League of Women Voters Topeka-Shawnee County in sharing non-partisan civic information.

Topeka JUMP

Topeka JUMP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established in 2012 by a group of clergy in Shawnee County who were looking for a way to live out God’s call to do justice. Learn more about who they are, what they do, and how they work. Topeka JUMP is diversified educationally, economically, racially, geographically and denominationally. Individuals can join JUMP directly and participate in committees and actions.

Getting to Root Causes

Topeka JUMP is not a direct service organization. They don’t give out food or provide shelter. Many of their members do those things through their congregations or through other volunteering or service organizations. Topeka JUMP is a direct action organization, challenging community leaders to make policy and funding changes that will solve community problems. They are not the implementer group. They do the research and turn over the information and support the other groups who do the work with the community.

Topeka JUMP’s three Action Tasks for 2020

  • Increasing Affordable Housing
  • Increasing Transportation to Living Wage Jobs
  • Decreasing Violence

Affordable Housing Trust Fund

Babcock shared background and updates on the Affordable Housing Trust Fund work in Topeka, including:

  • Affordable Housing Trust Fund has a focused plan that creates more options for low income families.
  • Topeka JUMP is requesting public money be allocated as a budget line item to this fund. This public money will also leverage private funding for affordable housing.
  • The Topeka Community Foundation will hold the funds and they can accept grants and donations. However, to make the housing trust function it needs public funding in it.
  • Housing trust funds can pay for new construction, weatherization and rehabilitation. This is gap funding, it isn’t funding a specific project completely but is filling the gap to complete affordable housing projects.

Citywide Housing Market Study & Strategy

According to the introduction to the  Citywide Housing Market Study & Strategy on the City of Topeka website there are four key questions:

  • What is the current supply of housing and is it positioned to meet future housing demand across a range of household affordability?
  • What types of housing are missing in the market?
  • What are the barriers and opportunities for diversifying Topeka’s housing stock?
  • What tools, programs and organizations are needed to advance Topeka’s housing priorities?

The Steering Committee and other affordable housing providers/funders have been tasked to create a short-term action plan that kick starts implementation of the study. Staff will report back to the governing body with these action recommendations in November 2020.

December’s Tuesday Topics

Tue, Dec 1, noon Topeka city and county elected officials will present for Tuesday Topics. Register for Zoom link. This virtual presentation is open to the public. League of Women Voters members will receive a link to the Zoom meeting in their email. The library coordinates the public registration to attend. The link to the Zoom meeting will be sent to everyone registered by 8am on Dec 1. Email connect@tscpl.org with any questions.

The recorded presentation will also be available on the library’s website in mid December.

Lissa Staley helps people use the library. She is a Book Evangelist, Trivia Emcee, Classics Made Modern book discussion leader, NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison, and frequent library customer. She loves her kids, being a librarian, living in Topeka, and helping people form connections and community. (She's the Community Connections Librarian!) She reads a new book every few days, but is enjoying the audiobook of "Empress of Forever" by Max Gladstone, the ebook "When We Were Magic" by Sarah Gailey and is eagerly awaiting John Scalzi's "The Last Emperox" in April!