Rome and Floyd County can’t wait a year for a new land development code to deal with a serious housing shortage.
Members of a new Housing Committee met for the first time this week and several members made it clear that help for home builders needs to come sooner than a rewrite of the code can be accomplished.
The new committee, chaired by City Commissioner Wendy Davis, includes real estate professionals and others who are closely connected to housing issues.
The lack of affordable housing is “by far the No. 1 obstacle to growth in this community,” Mayor Craig McDaniel said.
Several members of the committee, notably KC Homes project manager Walt Busby and Toles, Temple and Wright real estate broker Bill Temple, said there has to be interim measures taken while a rewrite of the Unified Land Development Code is completed.
That process will likely take another 12 to 18 months. Developers and builders have to find a way to navigate issues in the current zoning regulations, Temple and Busby said. The current regulations are slowing or halting development.
The city and county have opened bids for a consultant to lead the ULDC rewrite but have not awarded a contract yet.
Davis pinpointed minimum lot sizes, particularly within the city limits, and parking requirements, as two of the potential issues.
Curb, gutter and sidewalk requirements aren’t always needed, Busby said. Those features also run up the cost for local developers.
When job prospects are looking at Rome, one of the things they consider is the population trend.
That’s concerning to political leaders awaiting numbers from the 2020 Census, said Missy Kendrick, president of the Rome-Floyd County Development Authority. Rome has to increase its housing inventory to increase its population base. That growth, she said, will send a signal to corporate executives that Rome is a growing community.
Currently, there are 104 single family homes on the market in Floyd County.
Real estate appraiser Harry Brock called that less than a month’s inventory under typical conditions. Of those 104 homes, only 34 are priced below $150,000.
The price point was above $250,000 for 56 of those homes.
Davis also passed out documents indicating that five of Rome’s leading rental housing managers had a total of 10 units available this week.
Five of those units were in the $700 to $999 rent range, three in the $1,000 to $1,499 a month range and two in the range of $1,500 a month and up.
She also passed out documents showing that the median household income in the city is $38,480. Using 30% of gross income as a basis for housing costs, that translates to a housing budget of between $962 and $1,026 a month, including taxes and insurance.
County-wide, the median income figure for a household is $48,360, which translates to an expected monthly housing cost of between $1,209 and $1,290.
Along with finding a way to navigate the existing zoning codes, the committee hopes to determine the price range of what is considered “affordable workforce housing” during its next meeting.
A date for the next meeting has not been set.