End Ban on Cohabitation in Single-Family Homes

Target: Shawnee, KS City Council

Goal: End prohibitions on cohabitation in residential homes.

An extremely competitive housing market has shut many prospective home-buyers out of achieving their American dream. As house prices soar and demand rapidly outpaces supply, many individuals are turning to a tried-and-true solution: roommates. Unfortunately for one Kansas town, this remedy has been severely hindered.

Members of the Shawnee city council voted unanimously to restrict groups of four or more unrelated people from living together in certain districts. Council members say they were trying to protect single-family residences from being converted into apartments, but the consequences could be extremely detrimental for consumers most in need of affordable housing. Average rent rates have jumped 11 percent in just a couple of years, leaving many (especially low-income) individuals to rely on roommates to secure adequate living spaces.

In addition, this initiative represents an attempt by government officials to control people’s choices of co-habitation. This concern has prompted at least one council member to rethink her support. Shawnee councilwoman Jill Chalfie stated: “I think in trying to stop this one thing, we prohibited a lot of other things, including people’s reasonable right to live in their home with who they choose to live with. For me, I think I got this one wrong.”

Chalfie has since urged her fellow members to revise this prohibitive standard. Sign the petition below to echo her concerns and calls for reform.


Dear Shawnee City Council,

Co-living is a trend taking off across the country in response to soaring house and rent prices. You cannot erase this reality to satisfy an archaic standard of what a traditional neighborhood should look like. The council’s recent restrictions on co-habitation will disproportionately impact the individuals most in need of secure housing, and these restrictions will only increase the tremendous burden of Shawnee’s indisputable rent hikes.

Moreover, you are taking freedom and choice out of the consumer’s hands with this arbitrary dictate. One might call such a measure egregious government overreach. Your fellow council member Jill Chalfie admitted “I think I got this one wrong.” Please heed her advice to revisit this deeply flawed, anti-consumer initiative at once.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Dhyamis Kleber

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