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Affordability gap

Affordability gap Affordability gap

Marathon City house prices outstrip incomes, says new study

A Marathon City housing study offers 13 recommendations to provide the village with more affordable and diverse housing options.

Katherine Westaby, Vierbicher Associates, Reedsburg, told the Marathon City Village Board last week Wednesday that Marathon City suffers an “affordability gap” when it comes to owner occupied housing, but not rental units.

Westaby reported the village’s annual median household income at $60,509 and that an “affordable” house for this household (two and onehalf times this income) would cost $151,272. The village’s median priced single family home, however, costs $187,336, that is, $36,063 beyond what is theoretically affordable. Rentals in Marathon, Westaby continued, were more in line with what Marathon residents can afford. She reported that residents could pay $18,152 in annual rent. This would be 30 percent of household income. Annual median rent in Marathon, however, is $15,132.

Westaby said the village could use additional housing. She predicted a need for an additional 32 own-occupied houses and 12 rental units between now and 2024. Between 2024 and 2030, the consultant said the village would need an additional eight homes and three rentals.

Westaby listed housing action plans that the village board could consider to encourage both a bigger and more affordable housing inventory in the village:

_ Encourage a grocery store, retail and multi-family housing at the 400 Block site on Main Street.

_ Support senior living and multifamily housing on a redeveloped Heartland Cooperative mill property.

_ Encourage multi-family housing in the village’s downtown.

_ Extend the village’s Tax Incremental District No. 1 and 2 for housing.

_ Build relationships with housing organizations, such as Volunteers of America and Habitat for Humanity.

_ Build relationships with local real- tors to advertise Marathon City housing opportunities.

_ Start a housing rehabilitation fund.

_ Establish a purchase and re-sell program to fix-up deteriorated properties.

_ Consider more frequent property re-assessments to lower the tax burden of house renovations.

_ Encourage new mixed housing on properties north of STH 29 and south along STH 107.

_ Incentivize the development of more senior housing.

_ Organize sports leagues, movie viewings, and game nights to encourage civic engagement.

_ Promote additional daycare facilities.

Westaby told board members the most typical owner-occupied house in Marathon City was built between 1970-79 and was worth between $100,000 and $149,000. Housing costs were most typically, she said, 29 percent of median annual income.