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JEDC releases Juneau housing assessment

Posted: December 17, 2012 - 1:02am

Juneau is starved for housing, according to a new report. To reach a “healthy” 5 percent vacancy rate, Juneau’s housing market would need to add between 683 and 747 full-market and market-rate units. In the last two years 91 homes were added to the market.

The Juneau Economic Development Council recently released its latest Juneau Housing Needs Assessment.

Margaret O’Neal director of operations, director of Southeast Alaska Revolving Loan Fund and lead on the housing assessment project described her project at JEDC’s Dec. 10 board meeting.

“You need more condos,” O’Neal said.

This release is an update to JEDC’s 2010 housing report. O’Neal said JEDC changed methods for its 2012 update. It takes the pulse of Juneau’s housing market and assesses Juneau’s housing shortage, she said.

O’Neal recommended Juneau increase its housing density and also deliver sewer service to North Douglas. This would free land owners to sell smaller lots.

O’Neal said Juneau’s insufficient housing stock can be attributed to a number of factors.

Juneau’s population is growing. The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development recently released a report that shows Juneau’s population of over 32,000 is on par with previously projected 2020 population numbers.

Supply can’t keep up with demand.

“It is getting harder and harder to get a permit here,” Margaret said. CBJ is working to come up with a way to get the whole system working better, she said.

To reach 5 percent vacancy between 2010 and 2011 Juneau would have needed to grow its stock by 400 more units.

Juneau’s population is also aging. Other than a few bumps during World War II, the oil pipeline and the oil boom, Alaska’s population has grown relatively steadily. Many of those who came to Juneau during the pipeline and oil heyday live and work in Juneau today. In this population, housing density is dropping and this trend is expected to grow, O’Neal said.

O’Neal said Juneau is missing out on revenue due to its lack of housing options. She said she sees this as a sign of an opportunity to strengthen the housing and construction industries. She recommended the city provide housing solutions for a growing senior population and build hundreds of new homes.

“There is opportunity here for our community once we release housing and construction,” O’Neal said. “How do we get it going?”

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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