Housing Study Expected to Begin in Early 2017

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A recent Targeted Industry Study showed that Phelps County employers attract a larger number of regional commuters because of the high wages paid here.

Local organizations, including PCDC, see those numbers an opportunity to grow the local economy by converting commuters into full-time residents.

And now, a new county-wide housing study will help community leaders make that plan a reality.

“The Targeted Industry Study showed just how many people are commuting into our market, and this housing study will give us the information to make good judgments about what we do next,” said PCDC Executive Director Ron Tillery.

The Targeted Industry Study indicated that of the 4,590 jobs in Phelps County, nearly half (or 2,177 jobs) are filled by workers who live outside of the county.

Tillery said that creating affordable workforce housing is one of the county’s top challenges. Creating a mix of rentals and owner-occupied homes may help attract new residents and give a boost to local contractors and suppliers as well.

The housing study is a joint effort between PCDC, the Holdrege Housing Authority and the City of Holdrege. The organizations are applying for a grant through the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority to fund about half of the $30,000 cost of the study. The three organizations and local businesses and supporters would pay for the remainder of the cost.

Tillery said the housing study would be conducted by Hanna:Keelan Associates, who will assess every dwelling in the county. The study will determine:

  • Current housing market strengths and weaknesses.
  • The number of housing units that currently exist and the number needed in the future.
  • The type of housing that is most needed in the county.
  • Past home construction activity and if the housing stock is being replenished at a sustainable rate.
  • Commuting patterns and if commuters would move to the county if the appropriate housing was available.

Tillery said he expects the housing study to begin in early 2017 with results available in six months.

The last housing study conducted for Holdrege was completed in 2012. At that time, the study indicated that 154 housing units would need to be added by 2017.

As a result of that study, the Holdrege Development Corporation created the new 11-acre Prairie View Addition on the east edge of Holdrege where several private homes have been built or are currently being constructed. Also, the Holdrege Housing Authority spearheaded the Windhaven Estates project that includes 16 income-based rental duplexes for families.

HDC & HHA Executive Director Capri Chapman said she estimates that the about half of the 154 units needed have been constructed since the 2012 study.

Chapman said a new housing study is needed every five years.

“It will conclude exactly what is needed for our community,” she said. “It helps all of us, so we aren’t spinning our wheels.”

She is excited about the partnership with the city and PCDC on this upcoming study, and including the entire county will beneficial as well.

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