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City, county join forces for housing study

Superior and Douglas County are joining forces to determine housing needs countywide.

Douglas County’s Land and Development Committee committed to spending $8,500, splitting the cost with the city of Superior, last week.

Wednesday, the City Council considers approving an agreement with Maxfield Research Inc., committing the city’s share of the $17,000 study. The city will also pay travel expenses in addition to its share of the study cost.

Douglas County Administrator Andy Lisak said if the county and city did separate studies, it would cost the city around $11,000 and the county about $13,000 to complete independently.

The county’s portion of the study will come from the fund supported by the sale of county owned land.

"I think it’s a deal if it was going to cost us 11 grand or 13 grand separately to do it," said Supervisor Alan Jaques, a member of the Land and Development Committee.

The goal behind the study is to determine the need for new housing in the city and county so both units of government can target efforts to meet demand in the community with new housing development. The study will evaluate market rate and affordable housing, housing available for sale and multifamily housing. The analysis will provide information on the need for new housing resulting primarily for a growing employment base in the community at major employers. It will also address the need to revitalize existing housing.

Superior has among the oldest housing stock in the nation — about 38 percent was constructed before World War II, and less than 7 percent was constructed since 2000, according to U.S. Census figures.

Countywide, including Superior, about 12 percent of housing units were constructed since 2000, and about 28 percent of homes predate World War II, census figures show.

Lisak said housing development was among the priorities set by the Douglas County Board last summer.

"It’s going to give us pretty specific information on what people are looking for and what kind of housing we should be providing in the county," Lisak said.

Once the study is complete, expected mid-summer, the city and county would work to get information about the study results out to the public, said Jason Serck, Superior’s economic development, port and planning director said.

Lisak said it’s information that will help developers meet demand, and the city and county focus its efforts to develop housing communities need in Douglas County.