Housing Study and Needs Assessment Final Report Pinpoints Priorities for our City
As your Mayor, I was gratified that the City of Wisconsin Rapids on June 21 marked an important milestone toward our goal of understanding and ultimately meeting immediate and future housing needs. That evening, planning and community development consultant Vierbicher Associates presented the final report of the Housing Study and Needs Assessment to both the public and to the City Common Council at City Hall.
This study was conducted late last year to evaluate how this community’s existing housing stock meets current housing demand, and what changes may be necessary to meet future needs by filling housing gaps and establishing priorities for project funding.
Based upon input provided by more than 700 survey respondents out of some 900 contacted – an exceptional response rate – the report outlines issues, opportunities and recommendations that can guide our City in developing adequate, affordable and comfortable housing options.
For me, the major survey findings spotlighted the following community needs:
• Increasing or adapting more quality and affordable single, two-family and multifamily housing options for owners and renters;
• Emphasizing housing options for millennial job seekers, young families and empty-nesters; and
• Developing a communications strategy to combat misconceptions about the need and quality of senior citizen housing.
The summary conclusion that more affordable housing options should be a priority issue is borne out by responses from renters. These residents stated that their largest barriers to purchasing a home are the inability to afford a down payment and existing debts.
The report also reinforced our drive for Downtown revitalization. As Vierbacher pointed out in response to questions from Alderman Dolan and me, empty-nesters and millennials would be prime candidates for condominium and townhouse dwellings in our Riverfront area. Fulfilling these needs, in turn, would inspire residents to stay longer, helping to create a community ”identity” that would spur even more residential demand.
Overall, the findings demonstrate that much work remains to be done to achieve a housing environment that is truly comprehensive and appealing for current residents, and for future generations to come. Collaboration among government, businesses, non-profit organizations and community members is crucial to our success.
Because our city is situated among similar-sized municipalities, the Housing Study and Needs Assessment compared housing supply and demand in Wisconsin Rapids with Marshfield, Plover and Stevens Point. This comparative analysis considered, among other data, age and employment, family size and income, residency/vacancy trends, sales figures, and single- and multi-family residence availability. The researchers incorporated data derived from sources such as the City of Wisconsin Rapids, Wood County, the State of Wisconsin, the U.S. Census Bureau and multiple listing services.
City Director of Planning and Economic Development Adam Tegen, who oversaw this project, specifically noted the widespread response to survey interviewers. He also recognized Vierbacher for the degree of detail presented in its final report – the culmination of nine months of work.
Using this report as a guide, we can move forward together, as a city, to address these issues and transform them into opportunities for a more prosperous community.
Independence Day Celebration
This Monday, July 4, marks the return of the popular City of Wisconsin Rapids Fourth of July Independence Day Fireworks Display – widely recognized as one of the most unique, colorful and explosive shows in the entire State. The show begins at approximately 9:30 p.m., along the shores of the beautiful Wisconsin River, in Downtown Rapids.
Members of the Teen Fireworks Committee, who diligently work to raise all the money to put on this event, have the richly deserved honor of launching the show with the ceremonial lighting of the first shot.
The show may be viewed along most of the riverbank, except for the launch zone on the western bank of the river, from the foot of the Grand Avenue Bridge to south of the Moravian Church. Combined with other activities that bring our City to life during the July Fourth holiday period, the Fireworks Display brings our community together and helps pull in many out-of-town visitors each year – so it’s important to plan ahead.
For more information on logistics and safety reminders, visit: http://local.nixle.com/alert/5670618/.
Have a safe and enjoyable Independence Day celebration!
Thanks for reading,
Mayor Zach Vruwink