Economic Sustainability through Affordable Housing

August 8, 2022

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FUSE Corps

The Unified Government of Kansas City and Wyandotte County is currently working to increase affordable housing options to address the rising housing shortage crisis and increase the city’s workforce and economic development potential as well as the wellbeing of its citizens. The FUSE Executive Fellow will help research and design a cohesive housing development strategy that will help increase housing affordability and availability, encourage housing retention in vulnerable neighborhoods, and maximize local economic impacts on building owners, residents, and businesses.

Fellowship Dates: October 24, 2022 – October 23, 2023


FUSE Corps is a national nonprofit working to expand social and economic opportunities, particularly for communities that have been limited by a history of systemic and institutionalized racism. FUSE partners with local governments and communities to more effectively address pressing challenges by placing experienced professionals within city and county agencies. These FUSE Executive Fellows lead strategic projects designed to advance racial equity and accelerate systems change. Since 2012, FUSE has led over 250 projects in 40 governments across 20 states, impacting the lives of 25 million people.

When designing each fellowship project, FUSE works closely with government partners and local stakeholders to define a scope of work that will achieve substantive progress toward regional priorities. FUSE then conducts an individualized search for each project to ensure that the selected candidate has at least 15 years of professional experience, the required competencies for the role, and deep connections to the communities being served. They are data-driven and results-oriented and able to effectively manage complex projects by developing actionable roadmaps and monitoring progress to completion.

Executive Fellows are hired as FUSE employees and embedded in government agencies for at least one year of full-time work. Throughout their fellowships, they receive training, coaching, and professional support from FUSE to help achieve their project goals. FUSE Executive Fellows bring diverse perspectives and new approaches to their projects. They build strong relationships with diverse arrays of stakeholders, foster alignment within and across various layers of government, and build partnerships between governments and communities.


Across America, the growing housing crisis is causing negative consequences for citizens, especially for low-middle income (LMI) families, resulting in a ripple effect on the economy. In the state of Kansas, there are only 44 available homes for every 100 LMI citizens, leading to a shortage of nearly 51,000 homes for this demographic. Kansas’s major metropolitan centers, such as Kansas City, are feeling the effects of these shortages; the already low supply of available, affordable housing continues to dip while the high demand causes an increase in prices, resulting in residents relocating to more affordable areas outside of Wyandotte County or sacrificing other necessities such as healthy food or healthcare to pay the rent. In most cases, these families are severely cost burdened, spending more than half their income on housing. In turn, this is causing irreparable damage to the city’s workforce and economic development potential as well as the wellbeing of its citizens.

The Economic Development Division of the Unified Government of Kansas City and Wyandotte County (Unified Government) is currently working to increase affordable housing options. One of its primary interests is addressing how historic racially segregated practices such as redlining have impacted the vacancy of residential parcels across the Unified Government, especially in low-middle income neighborhoods where residents are most vulnerable to displacement. The city is working to bring new affordable housing to these areas as well as rehabilitate existing housing options. This will not only help increase access to housing, but also drive more equitable outcomes for its low-middle income residents, bolstering the local economy.

The Unified Government will partner with FUSE Corps to help research and design a cohesive housing development strategy that will help increase housing affordability and availability, encourage housing retention in vulnerable neighborhoods, and maximize local economic impacts on building owners, residents, and businesses. The FUSE Executive Fellow will: conduct a housing market value analysis; research and design a strategic plan for affordable housing; and research funding opportunities and policies to build staff capacity and sustain the program. This work will help support the city’s goal of increasing the equitable availability of affordable housing to help improve the city’s economic development potential as well as increase the health and quality of life for its most vulnerable residents.


The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship.

Beginning in October 2022, the FUSE Executive Fellow will work to research and design a new housing development plan for the Unified Government. Ultimately, this work will lead to improved access to affordable housing, especially in neighborhoods vulnerable to displacement, resulting in increased economic development and workforce development for the county.

The Executive Fellow will begin by researching successful housing development programs from across the nation to determine best practices. The Executive Fellow will also conduct a market value analysis to understand the current landscape of supply and demand of housing across the Unified Government. This will involve examining both desirable/undesirable geography, equitable pricing structure, diversity of housing types (e.g., single family home, multi-story etc.), current housing availability, and current land vacancies to help understand potential markets for both rehab and infill development projects. The Executive Fellow will also conduct research on current displacement patterns and gentrification risk to further determine priority areas for development projects.

The Executive Fellow will use their compiled research to design and develop a uniform, cohesive housing development strategy, focused on affordable housing, that can be easily integrated into the city’s Master Plan as well as the new Economic Development Strategic Plan. The plan will help address the need, types, and locations for rehab and infill development projects. The plan will also focus heavily on making best use of vacant residential parcels as well as building out non-traditional lending programs in historically underinvested or disinvested communities for rehab projects. This will require the Executive Fellow to develop relationships with community stakeholders, residents, developers, interdepartmental city staff, and financial lenders.

The Executive Fellow will also work to identify operational strategies to sustainably embed housing development as a key economic program for the city. This will include creating policy recommendations, identifying staff capacity building needs, and identifying robust funding opportunities to finance the program such as bonds or shared equity strategies.

By October 2023, the Executive Fellow will have overseen the following:

  • Conduct a market value analysis- Research existing successful program elements and models from across the nation; research current housing market supply and demand in the Unified Government; research current displacement and gentrification patterns to determine community needs; and research current housing opportunities for immediate implementation (particularly for affordable housing)
  • Design a comprehensive framework – Create a detailed plan for improving housing development city wide, expanding access to affordable housing; determine overall objectives and methodology for goal setting, evaluating, selecting, and initiating potential projects within the new program for both rehab and infill development; establish timelines for implementation aligned with the city priorities; identify how to coordinate and leverage interdepartmental resources for maximum impact
  • Support long-term operation and development – Create strategic policy recommendations for long-term operation and continual evaluation of the new program ensuring community needs and workforce and economic development are centered in all strategies; identify immediate opportunities to implement the program; identify staff capacity building needs and long-term funding opportunities for program continuation and expansion


  • Executive Sponsor – Cheryl Harrison-Lee, County Administrator, City of Unified Government of Kansas City and Wyandotte County, KS
  • Project Supervisor – Katherine Cattar, Director, Economic Development Division


In addition to the qualifications listed below, a background in management consulting, housing finance, and /or urban planning is strongly preferred for this project.

  • Synthesizes complex information into clear and concise recommendations and action-oriented implementation plans.
  • Develops and effectively implements both strategic and operational project management plans.
  • Generates innovative, data-driven, and result-oriented solutions to difficult challenges.
  • Responds quickly to changing ideas, responsibilities, expectations, trends, strategies, and other processes.
  • Communicates effectively both verbally and in writing and excels in both active listening and conversing.
  • Fosters collaboration across multiple constituencies in order to support more effective decision making.
  • Establishes and maintains strong relationships with a diverse array of stakeholders, both inside and outside of government, and particularly including community-based relationships.
  • Embraces differing viewpoints and implements strategies to find common ground.
  • Demonstrates confidence and professional diplomacy, while effectively interacting with individuals at all levels of various organizations.

FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.

FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with a core value of incorporating diverse perspectives into our work at every level. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.