The National Association of Realtors writes, “Indeed, according to basic economics, when the demand for housing exceeds the supply, housing costs rise. However, the current analysis indicates that, even with the existing level of homes available for sale, the housing affordability and shortage issues wouldn’t be so severe if there were enough homes for all income levels. Put simply, there are currently more than one million homes available for sale. If these homes were dispersed in a more adequate match for the distribution of households by income level, the market would better serve all households. In contrast, while household formation is rising faster than homes are being built, these missing homes in the middle- and lower-income price range add to the mismatch between housing demand and supply. For example, nearly 51% of households earn $75,000 or less. In a balanced market, these households would be able to afford to buy 51% of the homes available for sale. However, only 23% of the listings currently have a price lower than $256, 000, which is the maximum price of a home that these households can afford to purchase. However, in the higher income levels, there are fewer listings missing. For instance, buyers earning $250,000 can currently afford to buy 85% of the listings compared to 93% in a balanced market.”
“Thus, a two- fold approach is needed. To address both low affordability and the housing supply shortage, building homes for all income levels could help.”
How can we address affordability and the housing supply shortage in Eau Claire?
Eau Claire County, the City of Eau Claire, and the City of Altoona have partnered to undertake a Regional Housing Study. The study will examine housing market conditions across Eau Claire County to identify issues and opportunities that the County and its communities, including Eau Claire and Altoona, may seek to address in the future. The study will also make recommendations, as appropriate, that can be considered by local governments. The project is being guided by County Planning staff and staff from each of the two cities, as well as a steering committee of local residents with professional knowledge or responsibilities when it comes to housing issues. Though results are not available yet, be on the lookout for Open Houses or visit EauClaireRegionalHousing.org.
Affordable-housing advocates say more business leaders should get involved in this work. “Employers are terrific spokespeople,” says Robin Snyderman, principal of housing consultancy BRicK Partners LLC, based in the Chicago area. “Housing decisions are made at the local level, so having local business leaders, local employees, stepping up and speaking about their needs can change the tone of discussions,” she says. “When employers get involved at that level, things can really change.”
With housing decisions made locally, the City of Eau Claire is updating the Zoning Code to honor the last 100 years of the city and plan for the next! The Century Code Update Project is looking for the community’s input on the rewrite through this survey. You can also head to the website to find informational videos, community meetings, timeline, and contact information if you have more questions. By doing your part, Eau Claire will have an impact on affordability as well as the housing supply.