Lawrence County Housing Summit: Housing Needs, Availability Don’t Match Up

New Castle News

Lawrence County’s available houses don’t match the needs of the area’s aging population.

Small, single-story, energy-efficient houses are prized by senior citizens, millennials and disabled people. But that is not what is available locally, those attending the second Lawrence County Housing Summit heard.

The session was held at the Ben Franklin Auditorium. United Way executive director Gayle Young headed the program.

Residents attending the session were urged to get involved.

“Carry the conversation,” said Dale Turner of PNC Bank. “We have a lot of well-intentioned people in the community but what we need are jobs, jobs, jobs.”

He also urged more to attend meetings of the New Castle Blueprint Communities Council and other agencies involved with community development and improvements.

Young also presented a preview of a United Way-led program designed to assist struggling working families to make ends meet.

More details of this program will be presented in June, she said.

Lawrence County Planning and Community Development director Amy McKinney outlined findings of the county’s Affordable Housing and Implementation Plan. This is part of the Lawrence County Comprehensive Plan, funded by the county commissioners.

Findings were:

•Housing prices are affordable, but residents don’t earn enough to buy a house without being cost burdened by paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs. This is seen more among renters than owners and low-income households are hit most severely

•By 2025, it is estimated, almost 11,000 households in Lawrence County will need intervention to obtain decent, affordable housing.

•The average household spends more on transportation costs than on housing.

•The county’s housing stock does not meet the needs of county residents.

Existing houses are too large with fewer than 10 percent of houses with fewer than two bedrooms but 29.9 percent of households comprised of people living alone.

•Poverty and low cost housing limits opportunities with landlords saying rents are too low for them to spend money to make repairs.

•The county has 2,978 mobile homes with some mobile home parks charging up to $250 per month  lot rent while units depreciate

•People with disabilities have a hard time finding suitable, decent, affordable housing.

•The county’s growing elderly population are poorly served by existing housing.

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