Survey says housing and homelessness major concerns for Kansans

by: Zena Taher

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A lack of affordable housing is a major concern across the state, according to a statewide survey released Tuesday.

The Kansas Speaks survey is put together every year by the Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University.

The survey was conducted from Sept. 20 through Oct. 10., and 485 people participated. They were selected based on economic status, education and gender.

This year, nearly 72% of those surveyed say they’re worried about the cost of housing.

“I think this is rising to be one of the most, if not the most, concerning issues for a lot of Kansans,” said Michael Smith, Emporia State University political science professor and contributor to the survey.

More than 60% of respondents said their community is facing negative economic impacts because of a lack of affordable homes to buy or rent.

Fort Hays State University Docking Institute of Public Affairs director and survey co-author Brett Zollinger said a shortage of housing isn’t just a quality of life issue but an economic problem.

“It can be difficult for businesses to recruit employees to a specific area if there is a lack of housing,” Zollinger said.

Almost half of people surveyed say homelessness isn’t handled well in their community, while only a fifth say enough is being done.

“It’s gonna take state and local governments to tackle this problem,” Smith said.

People surveyed agreed. When asked who would be best equipped to reduce homelessness, they pointed to the government.

Spurring leaders into action is one of the purposes of the report, according to Zollinger.

“At least start dialogue in the local level, where governments can potentially look into some of this stuff further,” Zollinger said.

Local and state leaders can use the data to change policies and approaches.

Zena joined KSN in June of 2023 as a multimedia journalist.  She grew up in Los Angeles. In college, Zena worked as a reporter then after-hours news director for KHTS Radio, covering breaking news like wildfires and car crashes on scene. She also wrote about local issues. Zena was also a producer at KCRW, an NPR affiliate station in L.A. She took the lead in putting together the Morning Edition and All Things Considered newscasts. Although her interests were initially more radio-focused, Zena discovered a love for visual storytelling while working on campus newscasts in college. In her spare time, she likes reading, long-boarding and hiking.You can find Zena on Twitter and Instagram. Got story ideas? You can send them over to

This article was republished here with the permission of: KSNW-TV