Major housing deficiency in Morton County
By Dustin White
Mandan News, editor
A recent study of Morton County has shown a major deficiency in the area’s housing, while also showing an excellent economic outlook for the next five years.
A consultant for the Morton County Housing Authority, Hanna:Keelan Associates, based in Lincoln, Neb., attributed this deficiency to population growth that is outpacing housing development. This has caused many families to live either in undesirable housing units, or outside of Morton County while commuting to work.
Currently it is estimated that 1.4 percent of the housing units in Morton County are considered to have overcrowded conditions. This percentage is thought to increase by 2018, if additional housing, which can accommodate larger families, isn’t provided. In addition, 14.1 percent of housing units are considered cost burden, creating a need for more affordable housing in the county.
To fulfill the needs of the county, it is expected that the estimated cost for development will demand $229.8 million, with Mandan requiring $197 million. In Mandan, this development is expected to need 311 acres of land for 75 owner and 486 rental units: a total of 1242 units. For Morton County as a whole, this would consist of 876 owner and 534 rental units, totaling 1,410 units.
Part of this proposed development would be the rehabilitation of 730 units, with a cost of $27.6 million, and the demolishing of 189 units. In Mandan, that would include 493 units for rehabilitation at $18.6 million, and 125 units for demolishing.
Chairman of the Morton County Commission, Bruce Strinden, said that the county is encouraging development of affordable housing while also providing some degree of assistance to entities that are looking to build housing for the elderly, including the use of county funds. “In terms of opinion of the county commission, there is a focus on low income housing for the elderly and those in need of assisted living.”
The study did find that the majority of the county’s housing was in good condition.
By 2018, in Morton County, the per capita income is projected to increase an estimated 17.2 percent. The median income for all households in Morton County is also thought to increase by 12.7 percent in the same time frame.
A factor in this growth is the counties low employment rate, which is expected to remain steady. This has been partially influenced by the unique position Morton County has within the Bismarck-Mandan Development Association.
With approximately 94 percent of job seekers having at least a high school diploma, and 25 percent with a college degree, there is a potential for additional economic growth in the area.
As the population diversifies, and jobs expand, the county will have additional economic opportunities.