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Affordable housing gains little ground

August 28, 2002

County governments more concerned with infrastructure problems

Inman News Features

The need for more workforce housing is increasingly capturing the attention of county governments but has not superceded the need for increased infrastructure, which is one of the most perplexing challenges facing local public officials who oversee the nation's fastest growing communities, according to a recently released Fannie Mae study.

In short, certain suburbs, referred to in the report as "edge counties," are outpacing the communities' ability to build, and sometimes pay for, adequate infrastructure, and the shortcomings threaten the very charm that drives the growth.

The study, "Edge Counties Struggle with Impacts of Rapid Growth," defines edge counties as communities at or near the edge of the top 50 U.S. metropolitan areas, that have county populations between 200,000 and 800,000, and that have experienced double-digit growth in every decade since 1950.

The study identified 54 edge counties and conducted a preliminary survey on 14, which included telephone surveys of county officials. The study in its entirety will be published in October.

Ten of the 14 counties surveyed reported infrastructure as their top problem and the remaining four respectively named achieving jobs-housing balance, maintaining quality of life, recovering from an economic slump and providing affordable housing as their top problems.

However, the survey found that when county officials were directly asked about housing affordability in their counties, five of the 14 responded that "yes," affordable housing and homelessness were a "serious" problem, and seven said that affordable housing wasn't a "serious" problem. Additionally, nine of the 14 counties responded that housing affordability was a problem for low- to moderate-income working families.

Copyright: Inman News Service

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