Urban Development and NeighborWorks Lincoln focus on affordable housing

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN)- Lincoln is growing, and so is the need for affordable housing. Right now there is a shortage of 5300 affordable and available rentals units in Lincoln. That means thousands of people are on the waiting list for a home that won't break the bank.

“It creates a challenge to grow your community when you have entry level jobs, but no entry level housing,” said Dan Marvin, Director of Urban Development.

It's a problem that community organizations, like NeighborWorks in Lincoln, have already started working on. The town-homes near Trago Park are new and close to Downtown. They’re a mix of affordable housing and market price.

“We build about 8 to 10 units a year in ownership," said Michael Renken, CEO of NeighborWorks. "Right now we have about four properties in construction.”

So far NeighborWorks has created 47 affordable housing units. Renken says this is an immediate need to address before things go too far.

But that doesn't mean Lincoln has lost all hope, it still ranks better than many places on a national average. Marvin says making sure affordable housing is a priory means making sure Lincoln will continue to be a place people can move into.

“We’re always going to have people moving into Lincoln," Marvin said. They’ll start out with start up jobs and develop into people that are working and making great contributions to our community.”

The cost of living reflects the median income. Homeowners are supposed to spend about 30 percent of their income on housing. But according to Housing and Urban Development, over half of households in Lincoln are making roughly $42,000 or less. That means many in Lincoln are spending more on housing than they can afford to.

The City’s 2019 action plan shows that once again creating affordable housing is one of the top priorities.

Urban Development says there is a growing need for affordable housing in the Capital City.

NebraskaWorks says it is expanding the amount of low and moderate income households they will be serving. It is also working to try and buy a project with an additional 60 rental units.