Study: Garden City, Finney County lack affordable multi-family housing

Meghan Flynn
Garden City Telegram
Finney County Commissioner Dave Jones, right, asks a question during a discussion on housing Monday at a joint meeting between the county commission, the Garden City commission and Holcomb's commission. Garden City commissioners Deb Oyler and Manny Ortiz are shown at left.

The Garden City and Finney County commissions took a close look at housing needs during Monday's joint meeting.

Carol Davidson, Neighborhood Development Services director, gave an update on the Rural Housing Incentive District and the housing needs assessment study, or CHAT, that was completed.

Davidson said the housing study tells where the housing needs are and how many homes are supposed to be built each year to keep up with demand.

As of 2019, the total need is 1,200 homes for the next 10 years, so 120 need to be built each year.

In 2020, 75 homes were built in Garden City and 61 of those homes, or 81 percent, were built using the RHID program.

RHID is a financial tool where a developer receives reimbursement of tax funds for investment in infrastructure. The funds are generated from the appraised value of the improvements to the property after the infrastructure and homes are built.

The CHAT study found that the new homes being built are costly, they have a high market value of over $200,000, Davidson said.

"Some of the (prices) were down, around $175,000, but most of them were in the upper $200,000, the $175,000 one was just your basic three bedrooms, two bath," she said. "We're having a difficult time meeting our other (cost) brackets because everything brand new is going to be over $200,000."

Davidson said the area really needs housing, but especially affordable housing. However, that need is hard to meet.

"We do get the people have the lower valued homes moving up to the bigger homes, which free up some of the lower-value homes, but it's always nice to be able to get more units available," she said.

There are a lot of single-family homes and duplexes in the area, but there is a need for multi-family units, Davidson said.

"When I say multi-family I mean three or more units per built, that's what we really need more of," she said. "We get some of those apartment complexes put in and we'll meet our needs a lot faster."

There are future housing developments in the works. Currently, there are approximately 965 units planned over the next 10 years, which means a total of about 96 new units per year. 

If you include the existing developments there is a total of 1,792 units planned, Davidson said. Assuming those are all built within the next 10 years that's 179 units being built per year.

However, looking at the number of homes built versus what was planned, there will be fewer units built, Davidson said. From past data, about 63 percent of what is planned will be built per year.

"If you took 179 units per year and figure 63 percent less than we actually do, that would be equal to about 112, which is still below what the CHAT says that we need," she said.

Garden City City Manager Matt Allen said since 2012 the significant subdivisions built have used the RHID tool and have been on tracks of land that have been annexed into the city of Garden City.

Allen said the city doesn't view housing as something that "stops and starts inside the city limits of Garden City."

In fact, it's in the city's interest for housing to develop outside of the city, it's a better financial model from the standpoint of city finances, but the developers have asked for their land to be annexed to the city as the land has been adjacent to the city, Allen said.