Faith leaders calling for more affordable housing in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT)  –  A group of faith leaders is calling for more affordable housing in Topeka. The group named Jump is calling for the city of Topeka to start a trust fund for affordable housing. Organizer Shanae Elem said they want to put that money into large projects and renovations that will give low-income families more options.

“Therefore the properties that they’re currently living in can go vacant until they decide to bring it up to code,” said Elem.

Some believe the state of housing in Topeka is not improving over time. Jean Irving has lived in Topeka for more than 30 years. She said she and her friends have seen some of the worst homes landlords have to offer.

“Nobody would fix anything. It had no foundation. The water was running under it and nobody would fix anything. They are there to pick up the rent, but never there to do any repairs,” said Irving.

For example, the neighborhood around 7th and Polk is full of homes and buildings that are in desperate need of repair. There’s boarded up windows, broken windows and empty lots.

Even landlords that do invest in their properties can be bad for renters.

Anthony Divers is a pastor at Inward Faith Outreach Ministries. He said he was actually concerned when he saw work being done on the building behind his church.

“We want to make sure the price is right for people that will be staying there,” said Divers.

That’s why organizers said they need affordable housing to make the market more competitive.

“As code does better we could see affordability get worse because properties are going to need to be maintained and that cost could get past on to renters,” said Elem.

Jump is holding a “Community Problems Assembly” on Monday night. Elem said both mayoral candidates will be in attendance. She said it will give voters a good chance to see what each candidate thinks of the issues, like affordable housing.

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