Housing Study Shows Need for 270 Additional Phelps County Homes or Rentals

28 Jul 2017

The results of a Phelps County housing survey are in, and it’s no surprise that the county faces a housing shortage.

The survey attracted 404 responses and estimated a need for 270 homes, including 86 owner-occupied homes and 72 rentals in Holdrege, in the next five years. Nearly 62 percent of commuters who responded would consider moving to Holdrege, and 90 percent of respondents supported establishing a program to purchase and remove dilapidated housing.

PCDC conducted the study in conjunction with the City of Holdrege and the Holdrege Housing Authority with additional funding from the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority, and the organizations can now determine an action plan and apply for grants and government funding based on the new statistics.

Tim Keelan of Hanna:Keelan Associates, the firm the conducted the study, led one of four listening sessions planned throughout the county in mid-July. At the meetings, the survey results were presented, and county residents had a chance to voice their housing concerns or ideas.

“The lack of sufficient homes for sale is something we are concerned about,” Keelan said about the survey’s findings. “You have a fairly low vacancy rate throughout the county.”

He praised local leaders for having the foresight to conduct the study and for already-established partnerships that are in place to help alleviate the shortage by working together on projects and incentives.

Some key findings in the survey:

  • The top barriers for those seeking affordable and suitable rental housing were the lack of decent rental units in their price range, the cost of rent, the cost of utilities and the attitudes of landlords and neighbors.
  • The top barriers for those seeking affordable and suitable homes to purchase were the lack of sufficient homes for sale, housing prices, excessive down payment and closing costs and real estate taxes.
  • The type of homes that ranked as the highest category of need were home for middle-income families, housing choices for first-time home buyers, houses or apartments with three or more bedrooms, general rental housing and housing to attract commuters.
  • Of renters looking to purchase homes, most wanted to purchase a home in Holdrege or in rural Phelps County.
  • In describing the ideal house, most respondents wanted at least 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, two or more garages and a basement. Most respondents were looking for homes in the $100-$150,000 price range.
  • In the preliminary housing target demand, Hanna:Keelan estimated that 270 additional homes would be needed in the county with the following suggestions for each town, Holdrege, 158 (including 30 downtown housing units); Atlanta, 4; Bertrand, 26; Funk, 12; Loomis 18; Rural Homes, 52.
  • The Phelps County population was estimated at 9,194 in 2017 with a projected growth to 9,213 in the next five years. With a potential “economic boost” that would create 135 new full-time jobs, that population number could increase to 9,488.