With a new job many times comes a move, which means a new house. That house often is directly tied back in to the availability of a new job.
“I think that available or lack of available housing people are looking for can have an impact on if a person accepts a position,” said Linda Jolly, El Dorado Inc. executive director.
She said it also affects businesses’ retention for long-term and reliable employees.
The amount of housing a community has available can have a direct impact on economic development in a community.
“It’s a common problem amongst all communities,” Jolly said. “Our challenge is we don’t have enough housing that people seek.”
Jolly said many families today are seeking at least a three bedroom, two bath house.
Another factor is the age of the homes available. Many homes are older and don’t have a lot of the amenities people have grown accustomed to today such as dishwashers.
El Dorado conducted a survey a couple of years ago of people who made the decision to move here and those who did not. The majority said they were looking for at least a three bedroom, two bath house.
“Many times they were not able to find very many opportunities with homes that size,” she said.
The average age of all homes in El Dorado is 1955. Of the 4,500 housing units in El Dorado, 1,750 are rental properties and the majority are over 50 years old.
Even with these statistics some employers are not having issues with employees finding a place to live.
El Dorado USD 490 brings people to town each year when they hire new teachers and staff, but they said they did not hear of any issues this year with anyone finding a place to live.
BG Products, which recently expanded its operation in El Dorado, has not seen an impact on them either.
“I’m aware of some challenges with growth in the city,” said Reggie Graham, BG Products director of human resources. “It hasn’t been a major issue to us as of yet. We have employees who live in over 30 communities throughout Central Kansas here.”
He said it is up to the employee where they choose to live.
“We recruit based upon the positions we have and whether or not they want to work here,” Graham said. “Twenty percent of our employees live in and around the El Dorado area. That number will continue to grow as we continue to expand here.”
Page 2 of 2 - Barton Solvents also opened an El Dorado branch last year, creating new positions in the community.
“We haven’t had any issues,” said David Williams, branch manager. “We actually had El Dorado people who were commuting to Valley Center when we had that facility. Now that we are over here we’ve hired some additional people. Two-thirds of our staff are El Dorado people who were already here.”
He said they only had two employees who moved here and they did not have any problems finding a place to live.
He said they do like for their employees to live close to their place of work.
When employees can’t live in the town in which they work they face challenges with their commutes, often because of weather, and being able to address family issues if their children are in a different town.
“That is something we hear from employers,” Jolly said. “Employers would prefer their employees live as close to the job site as possible.”
To make sure there is suitable housing, communities are being proactive.
Cities throughout Butler County have implemented Neighborhood Revitalization Programs targeting not only a specific areas but in recent years have been made city wide.
“That particular program addresses existing and new homes now,” Jolly said. “It’s an investment on the part of the city and citizens to give people the opportunity to either build new or improve existing and defer real estate taxes for either five or 10 years. That’s a real positive move.”
It also covers in-fill of an existing property. An in-fill in a neighborhood often leads to additional homes in that area doing rehab or upgrading.
Another option for communities are to offer HOME grants, which El Dorado has done, allowing for the rehab of properties for low to moderate income families who could not otherwise afford to make the improvements, such as improving safety, electrical, windows, doors and other health and safety issues with the home.
The latest opportunity is for grants from the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation for new moderate income housing.
“We think this is a great opportunity to see some new moderate incoming housing,” Jolly said.
As communities continue to work to bring new businesses to town, they also will continue taking advantage of all opportunities to offer adequate housing.