Washington County's communities — specifically Arlington and Blair — have faced housing shortages in recent years.
In Arlington, the demand for new housing outpaces the availability. Families have waited months and even years to purchase a home in the village, leading some to build rather than wait longer for something to become available.
In Blair, the need for workforce housing was proven, which has led to new subdivisions and neighborhoods along Wilbur Street, on the former Dana College campus and in the Deerfield Addition.
Now, Gateway Development Corporation is planning a housing study for the entire county, which would provide data for developers interested in Washington County.
Gateway Executive Director Mike Rooks approached officials from the county, Blair, Fort Calhoun, Arlington and Herman as well as Two Rivers Bank, Washington County Bank and Memorial Community Hospital and Health System to contribute funds to pay for the roughly $30,000 housing study. A portion of the funds for the study are also expected through a Nebraska Investment Finance Authority (NIFA) grant.
The study could take six to eight months and would provide a “snapshot” of the entire county and would detail demand and need for single-family housing, multi-family housing, apartments and land use needs in the future.
Rooks described the study as “another tool in the tool box” when discussing Washington County with interested developers and businesses.
So often, it's been said, many people work in Washington County, but they don't live here. Addressing the county's housing needs could entice developers to build and people to stay. It could provide growth for the county, which would help businesses and increase the tax base.
Gateway Development previously completed a retail study for the county and this housing study could be the next step to put the county on the right path for additional growth.