Riley County Commission Chair John Ford (Riley County courtesy photo)
A Riley County Commissioner voiced his concerns Thursday over local strategies to address workforce housing challenges.
Manhattan city officials have been looking into state and federal incentive programs aimed at increasing the volume of affordable housing options in communities. During Thursday’s county meeting, John Ford was vocal about his thoughts on the issue.
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The issue will be the subject of a February 15 Joint City/County meeting, which will take place at 4 p.m. in the county commission chambers.

Ford was responding to County Clerk Rich Vargo, who noted the housing topic was a key discussion point at a recent Chamber Business Affairs Committee meeting. Vargo and Ford agreed the solutions being discussed are only temporary fixes to a long-term problem. Ford says the lack of housing stock will take care of itself.
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Ford says the other question that must be solved is affordability, but not at the expense of taxpayers.
In other business Thursday, commissioners heard an update from the health department regarding a lack of child care workers. Heather Ritchey, who supervises the county’s child care licensing program says simply opening more centers won’t necessarily address the problem if they can’t fill the positions needed to staff them.

She says higher wages and adding benefits may help with recruitment and retention of child care workers.

The health department’s child care licensing program oversees 257 facilities, serving five counties — Riley, Clay, Dickinson, Geary and Pottawatomie. The office completed 479 inspections last year and fielded 57 total complaints, 26 of which were substantiated.

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