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Study will show availability, needs of housing in 9 counties

The study will include data from the U.S. Census Bureau, said David Klein, executive director of Great Plains Housing Authority.

A housing study will show how available housing is being used and what the needs for housing are across the nine counties that South Central Dakota Regional Council serves.

The Regional Council used funds it received from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to hire Maxfield Research & Consulting to do the study, said Traci Redlin, executive director of the council.

She said a housing study for nine counties - Barnes, Dickey, Foster, Griggs, LaMoure, Logan, McIntosh, Stutsman and Wells - was done about eight years ago, but populations in each city and town have changed.

“It is also going to be great for the very small communities that are getting a lot of transfer people from out of state coming in and living in these smaller communities,” she said. “Almost every town that we talk to in our region is hurting for housing. There is not a lot out there.”

Redlin said housing is a major issue in North Dakota and the U.S.

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“We are conducting the study because we need to know what is available, how we can help our communities,” she said. “The research provided will help us determine the housing needs for our area.”

The study will include data from the U.S. Census Bureau, said David Klein, executive director of Great Plains Housing Authority. He said population, job growth and types and sizes of households change along with the needs of people.

“Some of this is so you are ahead of the game because it takes a long time to build something or to develop something,” he said. “So to have those numbers to encourage housing development.”

The study will be an update to the 2013 study that was done by Maxfield Research & Consulting, said Matt Mullins, vice president of Maxfield Research. He said it will include updated information for what the housing demand is for houses that are for sale, rental units and single-family homes.

“(It will include) where demand has shaken out based on demographic trends and economic trends,” he said.

For the study, Maxfield will use many different ways to collect data. Mullins said Maxfield does a lot of projections based on historic trends, what kind of job growth there is, housing, housing demand and changes in demographics.

Maxfield will interview property managers, real estate agents, developers, builders and economic development officials to get input on their local housing markets.

Klein said there are shortages of homes for sale and the types of rental units needed across the nine counties. He said some rental units were built prior to Americans with Disabilities Act regulations being set in place so some have narrow doorways and narrow showers.

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He said some populations need 24/7 care and there are needs for permanent supportive housing.

The study will also show the availability of utilities in areas where they could be developed. Klein said discussions have been held with developers looking to develop plots of land so single-family homes, twin homes or other housing units can be built.

“We are hoping that it helps encourage developers and other prospects to take some additional interest into our area,” he said.

Klein said builders will need to figure out what can go into new houses or units for a certain price range while still being high quality to keep them affordable.

Discussions have been held about the different prices of houses and rental units, he said. He said individual and family incomes for the different counties can be analyzed to get an idea of price ranges for housing, what is attainable and sustainable by those people and what needs and challenges are in each county.

What people need for housing has changed over the years, including smaller household sizes - barely over two people - and space for working remotely, Klein said. He said more units are needed to house the same population, and a single person working remotely might need a second room to use for an office.

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The needs of higher education institutions and school districts will also be highlighted in the study. Klein said school districts might need to reexamine how their facilities are being used.

He also said the University of Jamestown, Valley City State University and Trinity Bible College & Graduate School in Ellendale have grown and in turn have different needs.

“When there is an increase in students, there is an increase in employment,” he said. “Not just the students working at restaurants and retailers, but we need more faculty, you need more supportive staff at a campus every time you add students.”

Redlin said towns the size of Carrington and Oakes, for example, will be included in the study but smaller towns with around 200 people also have needs.

“We have smaller towns calling us all the time saying, ‘We are getting people from out of state that are buying up all these houses that are for sale because they can work from home now,’” she said. “It’s a big issue. They can move anywhere and work from home.”

People are moving to more suburban-rural areas because more people have the ability to work from home now, Mullins said.

“(There) is more movement toward more affordable housing markets outside of larger metro areas as people seek out those lower-cost markets,” he said.

Redlin said each town, city and community will have different answers and the goal of the study is to address each city and town in each of the counties.

“We can’t just worry about cities that just have hospitals and grocery stores and all that because there are also cities that don’t have all that that are still struggling,” she said.

The Regional Council and Maxfield Research & Consulting will hold meetings to discuss housing needs in Oakes and Jamestown on Wednesday, Nov. 3.

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If you go

What: Regional housing study meetings

When: Wednesday, Nov. 3, at 11 a.m. in Oakes; 5 p.m. in Jamestown

Where: Building Small Towns, 510 Main Ave., Oakes; James River Senior Center, west entrance, 419 5th St. NE, Jamestown

Masaki Ova joined The Jamestown Sun in August 2021 as a reporter. He grew up on a farm near Pingree, N.D. He majored in communications at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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