Friday, March 23, 2012

Report: Affordable housing need remains high

Housing Authority states case to Hailey City Council

Express Staff Writer

Courtesy graphic A complex of for-rent senior-housing units in Hailey could help fill a critical need in Blaine County, a recent housing report states.

Presenting the Blaine County Housing Authority's annual report to the Hailey City Council on Monday, Executive Administrator David Patrie cited statistics indicating a need for more affordable housing in Blaine County, including "a critical need" for senior housing.

"The housing need is most acute in the north valley and at income levels [less than] 50 percent of area median income," the report states.

Two indications in Patrie's report of economic decline are an increase in the percentage of lowest-income category on the Housing Authority's applicant list and a sharp decrease in wages.

The Housing Authority breaks applicants into eight income categories. The lowest-income category 1 pool has increased by about 12 percent since the 2000 U.S. Census, when it included 32 percent of applicants. In 2011, it made up 44 percent.

The report states that a family earning the area's median income for a family of four of $76,500, spending 35 percent of its income on housing, could afford to buy a home at a maximum of $229,500. The report included 2011 home sales statistics contributed by Windermere Real Estate, which show the average sale price for homes in Hailey and Bellevue was $252,815. Condominium and townhouse sales average $116,757 in the two towns. Average price in Ketchum and Sun Valley is $1.1 million for homes and $443,496 for condominiums.

Patrie said only one deed-restricted home was foreclosed during 2011, but one owner who moved away for work was allowed to rent his unit rather than have to sell at a loss. According to the report, eight deed-restricted homes were sold or resold. None was sold at a loss.

During 2011, ARCH Community Housing Trust developed two new homes in Hailey and remodeled one in Ketchum. The Housing Authority matched buyers for the homes from its list of qualified applicants.

According to the report, 56 percent of applicants work in Ketchum and 71 percent list that town as their desired location for an affordable home. Twenty-three percent of applicants work in Hailey and 40 percent of those on the housing authority list want a home there.

The report states that 480 more affordable-housing units will be needed in the county in the near future, and there is likely to be a growing need for more affordable rentals. Patrie said the Housing Authority recommends that its housing stock be split roughly in half between owned and rental housing.

Adjusted for inflation, the county's median household income declined from $62,910 in 2000 to $56,601 in 2009. The report also stated that 1,552 jobs were lost countywide from 2008 to 2009, and in 2011, south valley jobs (4,818) surpassed north valley jobs (3,883).

Patrie's presentation came immediately after Mayor Fritz Haemmerle proclaimed April as Fair Housing Month in Hailey.

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