PCDC Moving Forward in Cooperative Efforts to Add 270 Housing Units

26 Oct 2017

Phelps County will need 270 housing units in the next five years, according to the recently completed 2017 housing study.

Hanna:Keelan Associates recently presented the completed housing study to Phelps County and gave 21 action steps on how to meet the demand.

PCDC Executive Director Ron Tillery said the next step will be to form a housing committee to put the plan into action. Recommendations included creating a land and housing bank program, starting a county-wide housing investment club, or expanding PCDC’s employer down-payment matching program.

“There are some things for PCDC to focus on, and there are probably other things that are more appropriate for the housing authority,” Tillery said. “But, we will coordinate with them and deliberately go through this set of recommendations to accomplish as much as we can. It’s important to follow through. We need to have the capacity to follow through on a long-term basis.”

According to the study, the greatest challenge for Phelps County during the next five years will be to develop housing for low- to moderate-income families, workforce housing and housing for the elderly and special populations. Of the 270 housing units needed, the study recommends 170 owner-occupied homes and 100 rental units.

“What our community needs and the greatest opportunity for growth comes in addressing that bottle neck in the middle, homes between $125,000-$200,000,” Tillery said. “We have people who want to live in Phelps County but can’t find the house that serves their needs. If we can solve this issue, we will see a population increase and an increase in our enrollment in our schools.”

Other benefits include work for contractors and more homes on the tax rolls.

“If we were able to achieve the new housing construction that is recommended, that represents more than $60 million in investment that would go on the tax rolls,” Tillery said. “This is a large economic boost if we can figure out how to do this.”

Other housing study recommendations:

Purchasing Land: Forty-one acres of land should be developed for new housing. Of those acres, an estimated 27 acres should be designated for new housing development and 14 acres should be designated for senior/elderly housing development projects.

Tillery said the housing authority is looking at new development projects, and PCDC will work closely with that group to assist in that area.

“I hope that we can develop new land for the purposes of subdivision development,” Tillery said. “We are going to need to work vigorously as a community to tackle this challenge. It’s always difficult to find land for subdivision development.”

Renovating Existing Homes: With the difficulty of finding land for new developments, Tillery said PCDC’s Phoenix program will help. The program identifies existing homes that need renovated or demolished, and then new homes are constructed on the properties.

The study estimated up to 414 units could be targeted for rehabilitation in Phelps County at an estimated cost of $18 Million. According to the study summary, up to 196 housing units are considered not cost effective for rehabilitation and should be demolished.

Tillery said that number was not surprising to him.

“When you live in a community, you grow accustomed to the way it looks,” he said. “When you look closely, you will find a number of properties in need or renovation or demolition.”

Currently, no single entity exists to solve that problem.

“One of the things we are going to charge our housing committee with is developing a plan that is reasonable and achievable to help renovate houses and bring them up to modern standards,” Tillery said.

The housing study was a joint effort between the Holdrege Housing Authority, The City of Holdrege and PCDC.

If you would like more information about the study or would like to be involved in the housing committee, please contact Tillery at Ron@PhelpsCountyNE.com or (308) 995-4148.