Do you think there is a shortage of housing in Yankton?
If so, you are not alone.
Local officials have commissioned a housing study that they believe will confirm their suspicions that a shortage does indeed exist.
Yankton Area Progressive Growth (YAPG) will fund the housing study, with the City of Yankton taking the lead in hiring and working with a consultant to produce a report.
“Anecdotally, we believe there is a shortage of housing availability in the Yankton community,” YAPG President Mike Dellinger told the Yankton City Commission recently. “Major employers have indicated to us that their employees are having a hard time finding places to live. We hoped we could partner with the city and the Economic Development Council to provide the scientific data and have the study indicate where we are benchmarking our current housing stock.
“Hopefully … the results of this study will stimulate the private market into doing something about this housing shortage,” he added. “Banks will recognize there is an opportunity to lend. Developers will recognize there is an opportunity to develop. And home builders will have more places to build homes. That’s our intention.”
Read more about the plans for a Yankton housing study in a story I wrote here.
Coincidentally, a housing study was completed in neighboring Mitchell last September. (It’s not so coincidental, really. Yankton officials were partly inspired to do a study because Mitchell officials believed theirs had been worthwhile.)
The Mitchell Daily Republic published a story Saturday about what has happened in the intervening months. It’s quite promising. A total of 223 rental units are currently under construction in the city.
A study released in September identified an overwhelming need for additional rental housing in Mitchell.
The study was funded by the Mitchell Area Development Corp. and several area partners in response to an apparently sudden shortage of rental housing in Mitchell that developed in the last few years, according to Bryan Hisel, executive director of MADC and the Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce.
“It kind of surprised us,” Hisel said of the housing shortage. “That’s why we did the study.”
The study found the vacancy rate for all apartments in the city was just 1.3 percent.
At the time of the study, Mitchell needed another 225 to 300 apartments over the next five years, of which 110 to 150 should be conventional, non-subsidized apartments, just to keep up with demand, according to the study.
The results of the study led directly to the Pheasant Ridge project, Boote said.
“Someone passed the housing study across my desk,” Boote said. “I read it and it looked good, and it started from there.”
Other developers said the study confirmed what they already suspected — that Mitchell had a significant shortage of quality, affordable housing.
Providing adequate and affordable housing is the key component to increasing the city’s workforce, Hisel said.
“When we’re talking with companies that are trying to expand and grow,” he said, “they can’t do that without workforce and workforce can’t come here without a place to live.”
Finding workers is the No. 1 issue for businesses in Mitchell and will remain so for a long time, Hisel said.
In the last decade, the population of the six-county area surrounding Mitchell has declined by 436 households, according to the housing study.
“We depended on that area for our work force,” Hisel said. “Now we need to reach out to as many as we can.”
According to Hisel, up to 40 percent of the area’s workforce commutes from smaller communities into Mitchell for employment.
“From a community standpoint,” Hisel said, “if we add the housing, that will accommodate the workforce.”
According to Hisel, the success of Mitchell and the companies doing business in the city will depend largely on the ability of the housing market to keep up with the needs of a workforce with the potential to grow.
“If you don’t have apartments or housing for people,” he said, “how do you build a community?”
With the possibility of Yankton’s housing study being completed by the end of the year, it will be interesting to see whether the results in Mitchell are replicated here in 2014 — assuming, of course, a shortage is found.