Consistently we hear that a shortage of good housing is a big challenge in rural communities.
Problems with existing housing included:
- Landlords who don’t upkeep property
- No quality housing
- Old folks won’t move
Problems with lack of housing:
- Market is strained
- Out of staters moving in because of low cost is making current housing less affordable
- Banks won’t give loans
What rural people have said about their housing shortage:
We do have a younger demographic of residents. We are a rural small town with low income and lack of quality housing. Too many landlords without pride of community ownership.
The makeup is changing. There are more people around retirement age than there ever have been. That is putting a strain on the housing market as well as the diversity of small businesses that are able to develop the area.
High child poverty and low parent involvement. Influx of out-of- state residents moving to town because of the relatively low cost to buy home/ land. Rising demand makes housing less affordable for current residents. How to balance growth without making it too expensive for those already living here.
We own a small construction company and build in the bigger town near us. Banks will just not take a chance to finance our town at this time because we have no new comps in our area. This has delayed (prevented) us from completing the remodels or adding new housing town our city which we desperately need.
It’s not all bad news
We hear good things too, including:
- Creating loan funds
- Diversification is happening along with new ideas
- Senior housing options are available
- Good landlords are building
What good things respondents said about housing
[We are] establishing a housing rehabilitation loan fund for existing homeowners to keep homes maintained and in good standing.
Original demographic is very much a conservative farming community. Typically made up of young families and older/aging demographics. Many people from cities have moved to our town when housing in cities got too expensive around COVID. Our town is starting to diversify with cultures as a result.
Lots of people moving in from other states, higher incomes that can spend more on land and housing which brings in money but also prices out local people, love the new ideas and opportunities that come as new people join our already cool current residents.
[We have] river access. Highway access and prime placement for major health care access. Extremely active community with lots of options all the time. Excellent senior housing options. Great recreation opportunities.
I am trying to get good rentals and housing in the area I own 3 properties and trying to purchase more.
What steps can you take to improve rural housing?
SaveYour.Town has a video available, Improving Rural Housing, that addresses some of these challenges. Some of the stories in this video talk about Improving existing housing. They include:
- Andrew Laddusaw of Kittanning, Pennsylvania, population 3700, made maps rating the condition of all the houses in specific neighborhoods to track improvements and to focus town-wide efforts.
- AARP Livable Communities has a free HomeFit Guide and worksheets to help make homes more livable for people of all ages.
- How local investors in Randolph, Nebraska, turned a dilapidated property into a new spec house
There are stories also about adding new housing:
- Iowa put together a list of other successful upper story housing projects and lessons learned.
- AARP’s Livable Communities project has some free guides on accessory dwelling units.
What are some things your officials can help with that will increase the supply of housing and make it more affordable?
- Rezone to allow for more multifamily housing. Many small towns have zoning laws that restrict the development of multifamily housing, such as apartments and condominiums.
- Allow accessory dwelling units (ADUs). ADUs are small, independent units that can be built on the same lot as a single-family home. They can be used as rental units, guest houses, or even homes for family members.
- Provide financial assistance to people who want to buy or build a home. Small towns can provide financial assistance to people who want to buy or build a home. This can be done through grants, loans, or tax breaks.
- Make it easier for people to get approved for a mortgage. Small towns can work with lenders to make it easier for people to get approved for a mortgage.
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