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NOTEBOOK: Issue spotlight: Workforce housing


At the Aug. 28 Capital Crossroads quarterly meeting, area leaders received a two-page snapshot of challenges with the housing market. Here’s a mixture of intrigue and alarm:

In the next 20 years:

– Our metro area is expected to add 150,954 net new jobs.

– 70% of new working households in the area will have incomes under $75,000.

Those folks will need housing, but:

– Polk County will need to add 57,170 net new housing units before 2038 just to house the new workers, not counting current housing shortages or nonworking households.

– We’ll need 23,577 new rental units in the same period. 

– The market will need 33,592 new owner-occupied units.

– More than half of the demand for owner-occupied homes is for places priced below $175,000. 

– More than 58,000 households in the area need more-affordable housing. 

– Some 41,000 workers cannot afford to pay rent alone, even when they make more than 90% of other workers in their occupation. 

– Workers in four of the top 10 occupations can’t afford the median rent in any part of the metro area on their own. 

Downtown presents its own issues and context: 

– Only 2% of downtown workers live downtown, but the number of people working and living downtown has risen 50% since 2012. 

– 80% of downtown workers don’t have families living with them, compared with 40% across the metro. 

– 92% of downtown households are in rentals. 

– Nearly half of downtown dwellers are under age 34.

– More than 4,000 downtown employees earn less than $15,000.

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