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City looks to future with housing study

River Falls will be taking a look at future housing needs soon. The city recently approved a $20,420 contract for a Comprehensive Housing Study and Needs Analysis with Maxfield Research and Consulting, LLC. Of that, the city will pay $13,613 and the River Falls Housing Authority will pay $6,807. The study was included in the 2017 budget.

City Development Services Director Amy Peterson said this study will tell the city what its housing needs are and help city employees and elected officials plan for the future.

The study will include:

• Interviews with key community members who have insight into the local real estate market, as well as people like employers, rental management companies, nonprofits that support people at risk of or dealing with homelessness.

• A "windshield study" conducted by driving around, looking at and assessing the city's current housing.

• Data from national and state agencies, such as the Census Bureau

Peterson said she hopes the study results will be ready by early January.

The results of the study should give the city an idea of what is available now for housing, and use details like future employment projections to project the future housing need.

Peterson said the idea for this study has been in the works for a while but it wasn't made a priority previously.

Development had halted during The Great Recession. Now the housing market is recovering, and developers are looking at River Falls again, Peterson said.

Because the plan affected by this study will be more long-range, Peterson said she doesn't anticipate residents will see any development take place as a result of this study any time soon. She said they may start to notice something over the next five to 10 years.

For more information, contact City Planner Tony Steiner at 715-426-3424.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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