Available housing that is both adequate and affordable for all different income levels, directly influences population growth. For many years, Benton County has suffered from an aging population. Historical statistics will show some communities have remained stagnant in their population and other have experienced rapid growth, however, Benton County as a whole has lost population in both 2014 and 2015. This specific statistic is very alarming for both community leaders, leaders in our local school districts, our current downtown and industrial markets, our citizens, our region, etc.
When we assess this stat, as well as consider where people are migrating to, we find there is seems to be a lack of adequate housing available in some of our communities.
Why is this important? Many residents and community leaders recognize housing as an issue, but have different reasons it is an issue, including quality of life, quality/availability of services, etc. While all of these issues are very important, today, we are going to highlight two of the reason why it is important for economic development:
- As we all understand, our services are made available by the taxes our citizens pay. As our infrastructure continues to age and services continue to become more expensive, taxes will continue to rise. In order to help minimize the burden to these expenses, housing development and rehabilitation is an important issue to spread this among more tax paying citizens.
- Housing and expanding our industry base is a revolving cycle. At this time, businesses are forced to locate where they have an available workforce to fill their needs. In order to prove there is an available, growing workforce, we must have a growing population.
Several communities in Benton County are considering this issue and how we can overcome this this struggle by developing new housing area, housing rehabilitation projects, affordable housing units, etc. Benton Development Group assists in connecting communities to resource partners like the USDA, ECICOG, Iowa Finance Authority, etc.