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Waco study offers recommendations for addressing housing crisis

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Posted at 1:03 AM, Jan 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-18 02:03:59-05

WACO, Texas — A housing study two years in the making was presented to the city council last week, offering possible solutions to address the city's ongoing housing problems.

Limited options, rising prices and more people living below the poverty line were just some of the issues addressed by the study, which was conducted by city-contracted consultants.

According to the city's community services director, Galen Price, there is a shortage of about 4,400 housing units in Waco.

The recommendations proposed by the study fall under three categories: creating new housing, maintaining and improving the safety and affordability of current housing, and subsidizing housing for people in some circumstances.

More specific possible solutions offered by the study include increased investment in short-term rental assistance and homeless prevention, developing a plan for vacant properties in the city and economic incentives for employers with a minimum wage of $15.

Roughly $10 million of the city's American Rescue Plan Act funding is already set aside for housing-related projects in the city after it was deemed a high priority for Waco residents.

The city plans to work alongside community organizations to take action on the findings of the study.

"We are looking for collaboration, because this is not something that we as a city can do alone," Price said.

One of those collaborators is Prosper Waco, a non-profit dedicated to improving education, health and financial security within the city. CEO Suzii March said the non-profit has witnessed the impacts of the housing crisis firsthand.

"It's not just a stable number that keeps creeping up. These are dramatic increases in very high pressure situations," March said.

March said people are not able to leave low-quality housing because other options are too expensive.

The city hopes to begin establishing goals to address the study's recommendations over the course of the next two years, but the issue will likely take a long time to fully address.

"This problem didn't occur within one or two years, so we're not going to be able to fix it within one to two years," Price said.

The full presentation of the study to the city council can be viewed here.