The Statesboro City Council will consider adoption of an Affordable Housing Plan prepared by the Coastal Regional Commission (CRC) at its meeting Tuesday. The matter is slated for discussion at the afternoon workshop and on the agenda for consideration of adoption at the regular council meeting.
Earlier this year, the City contracted with the Coastal Regional Commission to develop an affordable Housing Plan. The plan is a requirement for grant applications for both the Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP) and the Community Development Block Grant (CBDG). CRC relied heavily on an analysis prepared by the KB Advisory Group in June 2021 in developing its report.
At the May City Council Workshop Meeting, a draft of this report was reviewed with the City Council and subsequently reviewed with the City’s GICH (SHARC) Committee. City officials also reported to council that the adoption of the plan will “make the City more competitive in the application process.”
How Is ‘Affordable Housing’ Defined?
The Coastal Regional Commission defines ‘affordable housing’ as no more than 30% of the family gross income, regardless of whether or not the housing expense is a rent or a mortgage. Using current Census numbers, CRC estimates the annual median family income in Statesboro to be $29,000 and, therefore, sets an affordable housing expense potential of up to $725 per month.
The current median average housing expense for owner-occupied homes in Statesboro valued at $150,000 is estimated to be $927 per month. The median average rent for a 2 BR apartment is estimated to be $780 per month. In their report to the City, CRC said “more than half of all Statesboro’s families are very likely to be financially and severely burdened by their housing expenses.”
*Federal defined level of $21,719 for a family of 3
Complications of a College Town
The housing market in Statesboro is complicated because of the 17,000+ resident student population, CRC reported, particularly with 4,500 on-campus housing beds and 11,750 off-campus privately built student apartments and homes.
The report also concluded that when comparing Statesboro to Bulloch County, the residents of Statesboro:
- have a much lower Median Household Income ($29,000 vs. $50,000),
- a higher percentage living below poverty levels (42% vs 31%),
- Have smaller households with 61% having 1 or 2 members,
- fewer homeowners (26% vs. 74%), and
- a higher number of families and individuals burdened by housing expenses, 61% of renters and 27% of homeowners vs 54% and 23% in the County.
Needs in Statesboro
The report suggests that a combined current and future demand for affordable housing exists for low- tier ($35,000), mid-tier ($35,000 – $75,000) and upper-tier (+$75,000) income ranges, and for a growing senior citizen population estimated to increase 55% by 2040 to nearly 6,000.
The number of housing units in Statesboro totals 13,392:
- 5,477 single family residences (including townhomes)
- CRC reported that 38% of the city’s single-family housing is over 50 years old
- 7,915 multi-family apartments, duplex, and small complexes of rental housing
New “starter homes” generally priced at around $150,000 require a Median Family Income of at least $40,000/year, though more than 85% of starter home units are currently being built outside the City in Bulloch County. The report said rapidly rising material costs are only exacerbating the hardship on low income families.
Additionally, Habitat for Humanity currently sells and builds 2–3 homes per year. Habitat, however, has been limited in its ability to provide affordable housing due to “a lack of funding to support the program and the lack of volunteer labor to build them.”
CRC said that while Statesboro offers over 16,000 local jobs, only 2,729 of the jobs are held by residents of Statesboro with 83% or 13,528 of those employed in the city commuting from outside the city. “These phenomena relate to the lack of housing choices and availability of an adequate supply of affordable housing and to a lack of higher paying jobs in Statesboro and the surrounding area,” the report reads.
What To Do
In January 2021, the Statesboro City Council approved the creation of an Urban Redevelopment Area (URA) for its downtown area and adjacent commercial corridor connecting downtown Statesboro to Georgia Southern University PLUS four surrounding neighborhoods in declining condition. Based on the declining physical condition of housing within four identified neighborhoods within the URA (Johnson Street, MLK, Whiteville and Mulberry), the City adopted an Urban Redevelopment Plan (URP) and selected the Johnson Street Neighborhood as its top priority for early code enforcement and housing rehabilitation activity.
CRC recommended the following action items:
- Implement a plan to create a Neighborhood Revitalization and Housing Rehabilitation Program within the Planning and Development Department. This will need to include the addition of experienced staff or contracting for those services with private firms and/or assistance from the Coastal Regional Commission.
- Develop policies and procedures to assist property owners in rehabilitating their homes, including investor – owned properties. These policies and procedures should also address loans and grants that might be available through a city sponsored Revitalization Area Strategy Program.
- Encourage and seek commitments from property owners, including investor owners, to support and participate in the neighborhood revitalization program through the rehabilitation of their property.
- Continue an aggressive Property Maintenance Code enforcement program and, with statistics, show that the City has achieved specific goals.
- Develop an inventory of completed housing inspections, work write ups and improvement cost estimates for homes in concentrated Target Areas and solicit property owner agreements to participate should needed and qualifiable financial assistance be available.
- Design infrastructure projects to improve the physical characteristics and appearance of the Target Area and Neighborhood.
- Complete a Revitalization Area Strategy (RAS) for each target neighborhood within the URA and identify specific projects and project areas within each neighborhood. Seek neighborhood participation and buy-in to the program and plan.
- Conduct an annual review of the implementation of the recommendations included in this Affordable Housing Plan
- It is recommended that the city take immediate steps to create a supply of decent, safe and sanitary housing. For example, mobile homes could be leased, placed on public or leased land, connected to utilities and be made available as temporary housing for families in need
You can read the complete plan below.