Thoughts on the housing shortage

I’ve spent many of my first columns musing of my opening moments in the Tiffin area. I’ve found this to be a hospitable place full of good, caring people and have been impressed with what is going on here.

But today, I consider myself very lucky for another reason. I was fortunate to escape Seneca County’s biggest issue — the stark, concerning housing shortage so well illustrated in the Housing Opportunities Analysis prepared for the Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership by Dublin, Ohio-based DiSalvo Development Advisors, LLC.

My family and I were fortunate enough to move into a wonderful home in this county last weekend. We found “our” home with the help of local Realtors, but had we not been so lucky, we would have found a major challenge, as a tight market dictated that we really didn’t have a Plan B. This study, released to the public this week, further backed up the subjective data we collected while on our home search — across the board, the market is tight.

Just read some of the lines from the Executive Summary of the analysis:

“The Tiffin market represents one of the most underserved housing markets in Northwest Ohio.”

“The lack of rental and for-sale housing development has resulted into an extreme shortage of housing that prevents prospective homeowners and renters from moving into the area.”

“The lack of modern housing is a quality of life and economic issue.”

“Growth in the labor pool and spending power for the local businesses is constrained without available housing.”

“There is an extreme shortage among all housing types.”

In an area that is seeing many positive indications of economic and civic growth, this analysis highlights what many of us already know. In order for this area to reach its full potential, this housing issue must be solved.

Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz summed it up well in a press release: “The results of this survey are clear — there is a need for new housing development in the City of Tiffin. With so many great things happening in our community, this must be addressed if we want to see continued growth.”  

The good news is that realizations like these can often bring about improvement, and from what I’ve seen of the leadership of this community and its residents, I’m predicting ingenuity will drive a boom in future housing development.

From the summary: “In the next three years, a market exists for 330 to 450 new housing units in the Tiffin area (Tiffin and surrounding townships).”

The report, which can be viewed at https://senecasuccess.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/tiffin-housing-opportunity-assessment.pdf, laid out some potential housing site examples for for-sale housing, multi-family housing, maintenance-free housing and downtown rental housing. From the research done, there are some locations in or adjacent to Tiffin ripe for development.

As someone from out-of-state whose wife and I moved here for new jobs, we were attracted by the energy and potential of this area. We quickly found that house purchasing was a challenge, and while we were ultimately able to find ourselves in a great situation, I wonder about those in a similar place as us, as well as those on all different legs of the housing journey.

This is a special place with the hometown pride of long-established residents coupled with the feeling of freshness and energy in the community. But whether a family has been long-established in this region or is looking to move here, we all need a roof over our heads, and I’m worried this housing shortage is chasing talent away.

But, since I’ve had a chance to meet many community leaders, I’ll bet on them and developers to help sort through this issue and will expect the bulldozers of progress to be evident soon.

Jeremy Speer is the publisher of The Advertiser-Tribune. He can be reached at jspeer@advertiser-tribune.com.