KACS seeks to bring affordable housing to so. Chester County

Kennett Area Community Services (KACS) focuses on basic human needs: food security, housing stability, and a path forward through educational workshops for adults in Southern Chester County. While the KACS Emergency Assistance Program has been extremely important to our community, we cannot only rely on short-term fixes to the systemic problem of housing instability.

KACS is poised to become a developer of affordable housing in Southern Chester County by gaining the Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO) designation. This designation empowers KACS to economically invest in residential properties in our service area that will become permanent, sustainable, affordable rental options for low-income families. This longer-term solution is a strong fit with KACS’ mission and vision, in which low-wage-earning neighbors of all ages, ethnicities, and compositions in the Unionville-Chadds Ford, Kennett Consolidated, Avon Grove, and Oxford Area School Districts can live good lives.

According to the 2022 Chester County Point in Time Count, 402 individuals were experiencing sheltered or unsheltered homelessness in Chester County. Over 20% of the unsheltered count were in our service area. The poverty rate in the municipalities we serve ranges from 4.2% in Kennett Borough to 18% in Oxford, while the same communities have high numbers of households (between 24% and 39%) in the ALICE category (Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed) who have limited funds to expend on housing. When those in poverty are added to those in the ALICE category, the communities we serve show between 31% and 46% of their population as low- or moderate-income and thus in dire need of affordable housing options.

Unfortunately, there are few options available to these families. The Chester County Department of Community Development (DCD) reports that there are presently 1,408 existing affordable housing units in the County. None are currently available, and the DCD has a waitlist of 3,342 applications. We are seeing more families relocating out of the service area despite the abundant employment opportunities.

KACS Housing Initiative program is the logical next step in the effort to end homelessness. KACS is an active member of Chester County Partnership to End Homelessness and the Southern Chester County Opportunity Network (SCCON), ensuring that the acquisitions and renovation projects we undertake will be part of a broader, community-wide plan to create affordable housing. KACS is excited to lead the way toward this longer-term, proactive solution to the housing shortage.

Of course, the most significant impact we hope to achieve is to make Southern Chester County a place where families of all income levels can live sustainably. Low-income adults work many essential positions in our community and deserve to live where they work, in safe and comfortable housing. Our goal is to create housing so that families in poverty or in the ALICE category can access housing at a rent they can sustain over the long term (no more than 30% of their household income).

With the CHDO designation, KACS Housing Initiative program is ready to become a substantial part of the housing solution. KACS will be able to secure state funding both for renovations and other capital expenses related to the property intended to become affordable housing for low- to moderate-income households, and for staff salary support to oversee KACS Housing Initiative Program efforts.

To date, KACS has served as a regional hub for housing assistance for low-income families. This has been part of our mission since our creation almost 70 years ago. However, the housing landscape has gradually changed as the area has gentrified and rents skyrocketed; the current housing shortage and high inflation have only exacerbated this trend. KACS Housing Initiative is a more forward-thinking solution to the housing shortage in Southern Chester County to better serve families in need who live and work here. 

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