(RILEY COUNTY, KS – July 20, 2023) The Flint Hills Wellness Coalition (FHWC) is excited to announce a housing conditions survey pilot project in the Ward District of Manhattan, Kansas. Starting this Friday, July 21, FHWC volunteers will conduct visual assessments of neighborhood and home conditions to gauge the quality of the housing stock near Aggieville and City Park.
Led by members of the FHWC workgroup, this initiative aims to address the pressing housing concerns highlighted in the Riley County Community Health Improvement Plan.
“Housing is a critical social determinant of health, and the FHWC, in collaboration with the Riley County Health Department, is committed to identifying and taking action to improve housing conditions in our community,” said RCHD Health Educator Shanika Rose.
Over the next two months, volunteers will walk through residential areas in pairs, equipped with phones or tablets to record their observations. They will be easily identifiable, with Health Department staff wearing apparel featuring the department's logo, and FHWC members wearing distinctive buttons. Importantly, the volunteers will remain on public property at all times, respecting residents' privacy by neither knocking on doors nor entering private property.
"Our goal is to simply walk through neighborhoods and record what we see," explained Rose.
The recorded assessments will primarily focus on home conditions such as visible roof damage, debris on properties, peeling paint, and other elements that could impact health and livability. Additionally, neighborhood conditions, including sidewalk damage, trees overhanging pathways, and trash in public areas will be noted.
“The Flint Hills Wellness Coalition’s housing workgroup has diligently reviewed the available information regarding challenges community members face when seeking safe and affordable housing. The workgroup concluded there’s a missing piece to the puzzle,” said Coalition Chair Debbie Nuss. “The missing puzzle piece is the condition of the community’s housing stock.”
A total of 16 dedicated individuals associated with FHWC and RCHD have generously offered their support for this initiative. To ensure safety and collaboration, volunteers will be walking in pairs, and the assessments are expected to be completed by the end of August. The results will be shared with the City of Manhattan's Community Development Department, benefiting their ongoing efforts to address the community’s housing needs, particularly work force housing. The hope is to conduct the housing conditions survey in other areas of the community to add to the information about the community’s housing stock.
The FHWC is grateful for the partnership with Kansas State University's Regional and Community Planning Program, which has provided software and training for the volunteers. By leveraging their expertise and commitment to creating resilient cities that enhance quality of life, FHWC aims to drive sustainable, equitable, and accessible improvements for all community members.
To learn more about the Flint Hills Wellness Coalition and its mission to foster a healthy, equitable community through policy, system, environmental, and personal change, visit their official website at https://www.flinthillswellness.org/.