FILE - Apartment complex

(The Center Square) – Rental prices continue to increase across Kansas, keeping up with the housing market and rising as much as 10% year-over-year.

"Until recently, homeownership was more easily achievable for many middle-income earners," Sam Alpert, executive vice president of Heartland Apartment Association, told The Center Square. "During this same period of time, growth in personal income among low-income earners has not kept pace with rising rental housing expenses, which include property taxes, insurance, utilities and routine maintenance (capital replacement and repair)."

Alpert said as these conditions persist, the number of renters living at or below the poverty line continues to increase.

"Here in Overland Park, for example, property taxes have increased 320% since 1997; that is more than three times the combined rates of inflation and population growth," Dave Trabert, CEO of Kansas Policy Institute, told The Center Square. "The only thing that determines how much any government taxes is the amount it chooses to spend; Overland Park is choosing to increase spending by 39% next year, not counting any federal money. Government actions make housing much more expensive and they must start reducing those barriers to affordable housing."

The shortage of affordable units persists across the state in both urban and rural areas.

Trabert said cities and counties need to reduce their taxes and regulatory costs to landlords so rents can stabilize or maybe decline. Alpert said that ultimately, some form of deep public or private rental subsidy is required to house very low or no income residents in privately owned rental housing.

"Rent affordability is subject to a number of market forces effectively beyond the control of any single property owner," Alpert said. "An adequate supply of serviceable housing for all income levels is one answer but has always been extremely difficult, if not impossible to achieve. Ultimately, the public will decide whether everyone should share the burden of making housing affordable to all."