Nebraska lawmakers unveil report highlighting problems with housing market

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — Anyone who’s been in the market for a new home recently knows how difficult it can be to find something that’s safe and affordable. 

Those are just some of the reasons state senators discussed the new Nebraska Strategic Housing Framework Report on Tuesday. 

It’s aimed at finding the best way to solve our state’s housing challenges, which they say threaten Nebraska’s competitiveness and economic future. 

Sens. Tony Vargas and Tom Briese led the briefing.

Vargas said the framework could support Nebraska as a whole.

“What are our desired needs when we’re talking about the type of economic development that we actually need for our state to grow and for all of our communities, both urban and rural, to grow? These housing needs, we have a shared common ground for what we want to accomplish,” Vargas said.

The report says in order to avoid an even greater housing crisis here in Nebraska, we must face our most significant barriers: unaffordable and insufficient housing.

It also says that 58% of Nebraska households earn $75,000 or less, making housing unaffordable to many. 

More than 176,000 households spend more than 30% of their income on housing alone. That leaves them with little money for other necessities like food, child care, health care and reliable transportation.

Along with that, Dave Rippe, the owner of Queen City Development Company, said the 42 smallest counties in the state have faced dramatic depopulation.

In total, the 42 counties have lost 42,477 people since 1980.

That means new houses aren’t being built.

“It creates a situation where you don’t have new homes coming online at the rate you probably need, so something like 76% of homes in the most rural county classifications were built before 1980,” Rippe said.

And the low housing supply in rural areas keeps people from moving there, Briese said.

The report said there are major economic benefits to ramping up home construction. Every 100 additional units of housing is said to generate tens of millions of dollars in local income. 

Dan Curran, the deputy director of programs for the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, said the state needs to act now.

“We’re at a crossroads; we’re at a point that we have to make some decisions,” Curran said. “If you want to build the community, you’ve got to think about what that community is, for what you want it to be.”

View the entire report here:

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