ENID, Okla. — A housing study conducted in Enid over the last five months has been completed.

The citywide housing study, which was a partnership between Enid Regional Development Alliance and RDG Planning & Design, began in September and aimed to identify effective strategies to address Enid’s housing affordability needs.

Amy Haase, principal of RDG Planning & Design, said during ERDA’s luncheon Thursday the results of the housing study show that Enid needs more housing units in general and more diverse housing options for all stages of people’s lives.

Debbie Moore, interim executive director of ERDA, said the results of the housing study will be “critical in addressing Enid’s housing issues.”

“This gives us our ‘marching orders’ and lets us know where the shortages are and where some of the older housing stock is,” Moore said. “It also gives us some strategies on how we may be best able to tackle some of those issues.”

Growth rates

Enid and Garfield County have, in the last several decades, seen slow, steady growth in population, and building activity over the last few years has been “up and down,” Haase said, with a lot of multi-family homes being added to the mix.

To help with having enough residences to match the jobs available, Haase said two scenarios were looked at.

In the first scenario, Enid’s population had an annual 0.5% growth rate over the next 10 years, reaching a population of just more than 55,000 in 2035.

“For that, we would need to produce … almost 1,500 units to support that population growth,” Haase said.

With that percentage, Haase said there would need to be more than 300 houses priced below $250,000, adding that is challenging due to costs of construction and other factors that go into producing units.

“But what we saw … was that we have a lot of those units existing within the market, so how do we preserve those units and get some movement in the market,” Haase said. “If somebody is living in one of those $200,000 units, and it’s not appropriate for their stage of life, do they have an option to do that unit that better fits their stage of life?”

In the other scenario, the annual growth rate of Enid’s population was 1%, reaching 59,567 people by 2035. Haase said almost 3,000 new units would need to be produced, with more than 700 priced below $250,000.

Enid’s affordability analysis, Haase said, showed that the city has a lot of housing units valued in a range that is affordable for individuals making less than $50,000 annually — meaning a lot of households could live in a house with a higher price-point.

“But, we also know people will choose to stay in the units they’re in because they like their neighbors. It fits their needs. They’re fiscally conservative, and their mortgage is paid off,” Haase said. “They’re happy where they’re at, so we realized that just producing more high-end units isn’t going to solve our housing shortage.”

Garfield and Longfellow neighborhoods

As part of the housing study, Haase said the neighborhood around Garfield Elementary School and Longfellow Middle School — which has an estimated 3,813 residents living there with a median household income of $34,112 and median house value of $54,885 — were looked at.

Some of the characteristics of the neighborhood include a lot of historic, small and single-family housing and that Garfield and Longfellow are defining assets.

The neighborhood also has some of Enid’s oldest housing stock built at entry-level housing; scattered housing reinvestment occurring there but also are some houses in poor or dilapidated condition; and a few areas with property maintenance issues.

Haase said some of the key assets of the neighborhood include having the most affordable housing in Enid; having Garfield and Longfellow as central nodes; reinvestment in the area; and a grid system, although sidewalks are lacking.

Some of the concerns in the neighborhood, according to the housing study, are visible blight; undervaluation; separation from jobs and services; and a lack of neighborhood services.

“What we ended up doing is taking the neighborhood … and identifying two or three strategy areas,” Haase said.

The “anchor areas” in the neighborhood — which have “good, stable places” to build from — are those surrounding Garfield and Longfellow and along the Broadway Corridor.

“When we go to one of these schools, we want to be able to look around and say, ‘Wow, the housing quality around these schools are of good quality. It feels good and safe, and it reflects the reinvestment that has been made in the schools themselves,’” Haase said.

To do that, Haase said some policies include removing any slum and blight conditions; rehabilitating streets and sidewalks; partnering on infill projects on sites with obsolete structures; encouraging mixed-use for infill and/or redevelopment sites along Broadway; enable increased densities; prohibiting and transitioning any light industrial uses and/or activities; and partnering on beautification efforts.

The “reinvestment/infill areas” in the neighborhood, Haase said, are between Pine and Walnut and 11th and 13th; between Elm and Maple and 12th and 16th; and between Maine and Oklahoma and 11th and 14th.

“In these areas, we want to target initiatives to remove any dilapidated structures,” Haase said, adding that other policies include assembly of vacant lots; investment in streets, sidewalks and stormwater; having specific standards for projects that leverage “shovel-ready” lots; and being sensitive to any displacement that may occur because of redevelopment.

“We need to make sure that those households are finding units that fit their income levels and are meeting their needs.”

Haase said in policies the “rehabilitation areas,” which are those outside in the neighborhood of the other two areas, are reinforcing public features; targeting property maintenance initiatives; continuing to engage the neighborhood on initiatives and programs; and adequately funding things to ensure sufficient and long-term impact.

Possible projects to think about in these areas include affordable senior housing; opportunities for equity-buildings; acquisition/rehabilitation/resale of low-cost exiting units; infill mini-subdivisions on new sites and clusters of lots; combination of housing and support services like childcare; and new housing forms like townhomes.

Community-wide strategies

Enid, Haase said, has a strong economy and community partners and vibrant commercial districts, all of which she said are essential in growing the local housing market.

Some of the challenges in Enid’s housing market are an older housing stock, a shortage of rental options, a lack of housing variety, real and perceived process issues and a shortage of ready-to-build lots.

Based on that, Haase said three goals were identified.

The first goal is to share risks with the private market when it’s appropriate. The objectives are to lay the groundwork for the other two goals; expand awareness and partnerships to address Enid’s housing needs; lower the risk and, therefore, incentivize more private market involvement in housing production; and lower the risk of developing under-built housing products that fill local needs.

Policies and programs under this goal should focus on affordable, low- and moderate-income housing; support unusual or relatively new-to-the-market types of projects; lower the risks related to infrastructure and public improvements; gap financing; and increased capacity with nonprofit developers.

The second goal is to increase housing production and variety, with the objectives of addressing the need for more than 560 units of affordable housing in the next decade; building and freeing up more housing for middle-income families, as well as those who do not qualify for low-income programs; addressing the needs for options beyond apartments and detached single-family units, including duplexes, townhomes and downtown Enid living; and increase the number of universally designed products.

Policies and programs under this goal should lower the risk of developing under-built housing products that fill local needs; increase the number of accessible units; and ensure that zoning regulations are not barriers.

The third goal is to preserve existing housing and to strategically reinvest in neighborhoods. The objectives are to maintain and protect the most attainable housing in Enid; target programs to strategic areas of the most need and opportunity; stabilize neighborhoods to create healthy, vibrant areas; increase affordable housing in proximity to jobs, services and community destinations; and ensure zoning regulations do not limit affordability and housing variety.

Policies and programs under this goal should improve overall housing quality, especially for Enid’s most vulnerable populations; encourage and fund housing rehabilitation over demolition and facilitate reinvestment of older neighborhoods.

“(These are) all in the effort of just making sure that we’re raising the overall quality of housing and making sure everybody is living in something that’s safe for them,” Haase said, “because, at the end of the day, that’s really what we’re all striving for — we want to make sure everybody that comes here to this community has a safe and affordable place to live.”

Moore, who will serve as the interim executive director until Feb. 27 when newly named Charlene Flanery begins in the role, said housing issues impact quality of life for residents and people and businesses interested in moving to Enid.

“Having this housing study in our arsenal just gives us an opportunity to address the quality-of-life and recruiting issues, as well as the community development side of things,” she said.

Moore said realtors, bankers and other interested parties were involved in the housing study.

“Having all of those people at the table to discuss the housing needs and the housing supplies gave us this report,” she said, “Now, those same people could come back to the table, and … we could start figuring out how we’re going to address the issues directly.”

The complete report of the Enid housing study can be found online by visiting GrowEnid.com

Article by: Kelci McKendrick, Enid News & Eagle 2.17.23