Affordable Housing in Lawrence:

The Problem

  • Douglas County has the second worst affordable housing problem in Kansas[1]
  • 1 in 5 Douglas County Residents pays over 50% of their income for housing[2]

This problem impacts Lawrence in many ways. The following is a list of anonymous examples of stories Justice Matters has heard since we began researching the problem

  • Barrier to recovery after a mental illness or addiction.
  • Adult children moving home because they cannot afford to live on their own.
  • People living in crowded or unsafe living conditions.
  • Women staying in abusive relationships, because the cost of housing disables the chance of leaving.
  • People working multiple jobs.
  • People forego basic things like health procedures, food, or medicine.
  • Homelessness.
  • Formerly incarcerated individuals returning back to crime.
  • People living outside Lawrence because they cannot afford it.
  • Seniors retiring outside Lawrence.


The City of Lawrence has conducted two official affordable housing studies and concluded that the city has a serious problem. 42% of the population requires housing priced at or below $130,000, and roughly 40% have household incomes at or below $35,000.[3] Yet the average selling price for a home in Lawrence is currently $225,000[4]. This creates a large gap between the needs of populations like working families, retirees, and women fleeing domestic violence, and the available housing in the community. The gap is created in part by student renters, who share units and can therefore afford higher rents than a single-income family or a retiree. Additionally, Lawrence is a desirable community due to the presence of a major research university and it’s unique geographical positioning between Kansas City and Topeka. Available land for new development, however, is limited by floodplains. These factors drive up demand and decrease supply, which increases prices in the real estate and rental markets.  

Our Proposal

Fund Affordable Housing construction by pass Ballot Initiative Item 3 on November 7, 2017. This will dedicate an estimated $1,000,000 per year to create affordable housing, and put the city on track to solve its affordable housing crisis in 15 years.[6]

What Justice Matters has done so far

  • Advocate for the construction of 3 permanently affordable homes in East Lawrence that demonstrate how local affordable housing trust funds work.[7]
  • Ensured allocation of $1.65 million in the Lawrence city budget to build/maintain affordable housing stock over the next five years, beginning in 2017.[8]

Click here to learn more about Lawrence's affordable housing proposal on the ballot this November, and sign our voter pledge.





[3], p. 2

[4] Mike McGrew, McGrew Real Estate

[5], p. 64