York County tries to tackle housing shortage

YORK, Neb. (KLKN) — The U.S. has a housing shortage of a whopping 4 million.

That’s according to Fannie Mae, a government-controlled company that makes mortgages available to those with lower incomes.

As prices rise, affordable housing for many is pretty much non-existent, so much so that the Biden administration released the Housing Supply Action Plan last May.

Its long-term goal is to add more options; the short-term goal falls back on local organizations like York County Health Initiative, which builds community partnerships to help address the need.

Andrea Gray manages Vistas Meadow Grove, an apartment complex in York, that offers affordable housing, but she says the availability is scarce.

“There is a shortage of housing here in York,” she said. “I do have a waitlist that people are generally on for about a year to a year and a half. By the time I do start calling people, they’ve actually purchased homes because they’ve had to wait so long.”

Those looking for affordable housing run the full spectrum, from younger families and couples to seniors.

York County Health Initiative Executive Director Jake Owens says in addition to the workforce population needing more housing, the senior population needs more options, too. Seniors are looking for upgraded amenities to add to their quality of life.

“We’re finding that a lot of seniors, they don’t want to be warehoused; they want amenities,” said Owens. “For example, they want things like an attached garage, they want Wi-Fi, they want to walk their pets without having to go up and down a flight of stairs to take them out, and they want to have the washer and dryer in their home.”

The initiative is addressing senior housing concerns by developing a group of partners that they work with on a continuous basis.

Owens said they help landlords in making upgrades to housing. Part of that assistance can be anything from money to help buy supplies to putting them in contact with partners who can offer help.

But after a meeting, the initiative found that one of the problems was not solely a lack of resources, but a lack of ability to get the word out on those resources.

“Within the end of the hour, we had really identified that our community had a ton of programs, but nobody knew about the other programs being offered.”

The initiative now works as a team to get information out to those who need it.

While the crisis is a national problem that won’t be fixed instantly, the York County Health Initiative will continue to develop partnerships and strive toward its mission of housing security.

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