City Council President Tim Salters on Monday said the city is ready to be a supportive partner in the Knox County Development Corp.’s upcoming housing study.
“Mayor Yochum and I have had discussions about this, and I know this is a top priority,” he said.
For years, community leaders and elected officials have voiced a need for more mid-range housing, and KCDC’s study will help pinpoint just how great the need actually is.
Chris Pfaff, CEO of KCDC, addressed members of city council Monday night, briefly discussing the rationale for the upcoming study and outlining its objectives.
“Housing is an essential element to attract and maintain the workforce,” said Pfaff. “Without affordable and quality housing, this community is not going to prosper.”
The KCDC contends that quality housing is what will help attract young households and entrepreneurs.
“It is essential to our economic diversity,” Pfaff said, adding that the study will “get to the bottom of” the gaps that exist in the local housing market.
The past couple of years have proved to be a seller’s market, he said, with some homes selling above the original asking price.
Too, says Pfaff, some existing employees of Good Samaritan, Vincennes University and the Vincennes Community School Corp. often choose to live in neighboring counties where the housing stock is more plentiful.
“There are more than 1,400 commuters that come into the county just from Illinois,” Pfaff said, noting that Knox County could probably attract at least a percentage of them if they could find an affordable, quality home.
The needed price point, Pfaff says, will likely fall between $120,000 and $250,000, but one purpose of the housing study is to more clearly identify the gaps in the existing market.
Such information would benefit a variety of organizations, he said, specifically the KCDC itself, service providers, builders, employers and city and county government leaders.
The KCDC has already hired Thomas P. Miller and Associates in Indianapolis for the work. It’s possible the study could be done in as little as four months.
Each of the six investing organizations — including the city of Vincennes — will pay $4,500 for the housing study, for a total cost of $27,000.
Salters said he’s appreciative of how quickly KCDC is moving forward with the housing study and is eagerly awaiting the results.
“This is a good move for the city of Vincennes and the county as a whole. This study will be a tool to pinpoint our needs, so I’m all in,” he said.
In other business, newly-elected county commissioner T.J. Brink addressed council members about partnering with the county to address a paving concern just west of 15th Street in the area commonly known as Bunker Hill.
“In the eleven days I’ve been a commissioner, I’ve received a number of calls from residents of Bunker Hill,” Brink said.
Brink explained that the county will soon be paving its roadways west of 15th St., but there will be a section of city roadways in Bunker Hill left in need of repair.
“It will leave about a three block radius that’s city owned,” Brink said. “Since we’re already going to be there, we wanted to let you know our plans and open it up so we don’t have that gap if you’re willing to help out with the paving.”
Though the city must follow its own computer-based program of prioritizing street repair — one that makes the city more eligible for state grant dollars aimed at infrastructure improvements — Yochum said he is interested in working with the county to make updates in the Bunker Hill area.
“We have to follow our program, but if it works out, then absolutely.”