200 Homes Needed in County in Next 5 Years

200 Homes Needed in County in Next 5 Years Main Photo

31 Aug 2022

Results of a recent Phelps County housing study show a need for between 197-286 new housing units in the next five years.

“This study confirms what we knew intuitively from recent experience: Our market needs more housing for homeowners and renters,” PCDC Executive Director Ron Tillery said. “A lot more. The scope is clarified in the report and lays out the challenges we have to fill the current needs as well as our future growth.”

Tillery said if the county can come together and respond effectively to the demand laid out in the study, Holdrege and Phelps County will be well positioned to prosper.

“Our area will be able to grow in population and support economic expansion by current and future employers,” he said.

To satisfy a medium target demand over five years, the housing study recommended creating the following housing units:

  • 197 county-wide living units with 123 in Holdrege (57 owner occupied and 71 rentals)

Further breaking down the numbers, the study recommends 16 Holdrege homes in the $276,200-$368,000 price range and 27 homes priced above $372,000. On the rental side, it recommended 24 units priced less than $805, 15 between $821 and $962, 20 between $1,015 and $1,230, and 12 at more than $1,242.

To satisfy a growth demand, the study recommended:

  • 286 new units countywide with 206 in Holdrege (83 owner occupied and 110 rentals)

According to the study, a Community Growth Initiative (CGI) could potentially occur in Phelps County by 2027.

“Utilizing a scenario of 200 additional Full-Time Employment (FTE) opportunities being created and the securement of up to 10 percent of the current commuter workforce, Phelps County would have the potential to increase in population by up to 4.7 percent, or 422 persons, for an estimated 2027 population of 9,359,” the report stated.

The study reported that Phelps County currently contains “an estimated 4,396 housing units, consisting of approximately 3,096 owner and 1,300 rental units. Of these 4,396 units, approximately 704 are vacant, resulting in an overall, estimated housing vacancy rate of 16 percent.”

The study recommended that Phelps County communities upgrade the housing stock during the next five years.

“This can be accomplished by, both, building new homes and rehabilitating (economically feasible) existing housing units,” the study reported. “Housing units that are severely deteriorated or dilapidated should be targeted for substantial rehabilitation or, in extreme cases, demolition and replacement.”

Tillery said that one of the challenges to building or rehabbing homes is the bottlenecks that exist in the trades and construction categories.

“Many contractors are busy and find it difficult to accommodate new projects in a timely fashion,” Tillery said. “It may be necessary to import expertise from other markets until we can develop more local capacity. PCDC always encourages developers to utilize its Builders Bureau of local contractors when bidding jobs, but the scale of our need may exceed the capability of some.”

According to the study, three-plus bedroom units at an average purchase price of $178,000 and an estimated average monthly rent cost of $640 are the most needed housing types for the workforce population in Phelps County.

The study also included demographic data about the county and pointed out how that data should guide housing development.

For instance, the estimated median age in Phelps County is 39.7 years, according to the study. Median age is projected to continue to increase to 40.0 years by 2027. The “19 and Under” and “35 to 54” age cohorts were the largest population cohorts in the county.

However, all communities in Phelps County are projected to either remain stable or increase in population among persons 55+ years of age.

“It is important that a range of elderly services, amenities and appropriate housing be made available in Phelps County to encourage senior/elderly populations to remain in their respective communities and, ultimately, the county,” the study reported.

The study recommended that the City of Holdrege both identify and designate up to 82.5 acres for the future development of “new” housing units by 2027.

“This land use demand will require these communities to revisit, review and, if necessary, modify the Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Regulations to identify future residential land use needs,” the study stated. “Include exploring the need to modify regulations to address the “missing middle” housing issue in each community, potentially including the development practice of providing density bonuses.”

The study also recommended:

  • Creating at least 10 more downtown living units
  • Evaluating zoning regulations to ensure they are up to date and can accommodate new housing trends such as accessory housing (granny flats and in-law suites) and more densely designed housing communities, tiny house neighborhoods, single room occupancy housing, and work/live residential campuses.
  • Engaging employers and the local foundation to assist in housing development
  • Using TIF and other funding resources to develop property for housing construction
  • Reorganizing locally to focus on housing development (PCDC, HDC, CRA, private sector)
  • Prioritizing in-fill lot development and home renovation
  • Considering a land-bank program to acquire and develop property
  • Adding independent living options

Hanna:Keelan Associates prepared the study for PCDC with support from the City of Holdrege, Phelps County, BD, Allmand/Briggs & Stratton, Central Valley Irrigation and Bruning Bank.

The study included a survey completed by 367 residents.

Tillery said the next step will be to present the study findings to the PCDC Housing Committee and then make group or special presentations to stakeholders, including the funding partners of the study.

“Our goal will be to prioritize action items identified in the study and develop an overall strategy,” Tillery said.

A copy of the housing study can be viewed on the PCDC website at www.phelpscountyne.com/site-selectors-market-research.