MHK housing problem adds to food shortage woes

Manhattan has a problem with safe and affordable housing.

Jesse, a single mom, used to live in Manhattan, but had to move to Junction City where housing was cheaper and leave her kids in MHK to live with her parents so they can go to the same school.

Over half of renters in Manhattan can't afford their rent at 30 percent of their income…

Her budget is still stressed thanks to the new transportation costs. She lives paycheck to paycheck. Luckily, she doesn't have the same kind of stress and healthcare costs associated with living in an apartment that is full of mold. Stories like this are not uncommon. They just don't get told.

Over half of renters in Manhattan can't afford their rent at 30 percent of their income, which cuts into other basic needs like food, transportation, childcare, and healthcare. It's no wonder that Riley County has among the highest rates of food insecurity and childhood poverty in the state of Kansas.

Other Kansas communities across the state are implementing common sense, economically viable programs to address housing safety and affordability. The cost of not taking action is fewer people wanting to live here, being able to stay here, and the health, vitality, and resiliency of our community. Not taking action would also be unethical.

The city and county need to support creative solutions to safe and affordable housing for all in Manhattan, especially students and families like Jesse's who are simply trying to get their kids a decent start to life.

This piece originally ran in The Mercury on Oct. 26.