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SHEBOYGAN — A City of Sheboygan housing study presented at Wednesday's Common Council meeting showed that the city could soon be in dire need for senior living opportunities.

The city contracted with MSA Professional Services, Inc., in October of 2020 to conduct the affordable housing study. Below are some of the key findings presented by Becky Binz of MSA in Wednesday's meeting.

Senior housing

When looking at age cohorts and trends, MSA found that the city can expect as much as a 112% increase in citizens age 85 and older between 2020 and 2040. To meet these demands, Binz said the city would need to construct nearly 1,200 units between senior independent living and assisted living in that time frame.

Rental market

Condo and rental unit occupancy was another key topic identified in the study, which found that 39% of the current housing stock in the city consists of rental units, but just 50% of those are considered affordable. About 33% of renter households in the city are considered cost-burdened, which means that more than 30% of their gross income goes strictly to housing.

A desirable vacancy rate, Binz said, is around 5% to 7%, and the city sat at just 3.3% for 2020. She said to meet demand projections, the city would need to create between 401 and 1,023 units by 2030, or between 40 to 102 units per year.

Ownership market

The study found that the city has a large supply of affordable homes fit more for lower-income households that are owned by moderate to high-income households, creating an undersupply of higher priced homes and tightening supply of homes for lower-income households. This tight supply increases those prices of single-family homes and also drives demand for duplex homes and condos, Binz explained.

Creating more independent and assisted living units would also free up more of the city's affordable single-family homes in existing desirable neighborhoods.

Study recommendations

In the presentation, Binz recommended the city focuses on the creation of more senior housing and 'Missing Middle' housing, which can include duplexes, townhomes and other multi-family options. Because of Sheboygan's rigid borders in terms of city expansion, Binz recommended creating these developments within already established corridors.

To achieve these goals, MSA recommends assessing existing plots as areas of opportunity, to allow for multi-family buildings to be permitted in all districts, to form working groups and initiatives with the area's major employers and to facilitate funding through workforce housing funds, TIF extensions and neighborhood revitalization funds.

Next steps

The study has been referred to the City Plan Commission for review, where it will then be sent back to Common Council. A public presentation will be held for the findings on Wednesday, April 14, from 5 to 6 p.m. virtually. Learn more and register here.

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