As many are aware, the City of Waco hired an outside consulting firm called Lonergan & Mullin Associates to conduct a years-long study of the housing issues facing Waco. Waco has become one of the hottest housing markets in the greater Central Texas area, with home costs rising an average of 13% from 2020 to 2021, according to a study done by Zillow on the Waco area. Rising home prices coupled with increased construction material costs are causing many area residents to look wearily at the housing market.
In January, the City of Waco held a special City Council meeting to hear from Mullin & Lonergan Associates concerning the housing issues facing Waco families. A chief concern, the study showed, was the shortage of houses for low-to-moderate income families. This is by no means a new challenge for our area. In fact, NeighborWorks Waco has been striving to empower low-to-moderate income families—and families of all income levels—to achieve their goals of homeownership since 1993. Since that time, we have helped more than 5000 families on their journey to homeownership.
NeighborWorks Waco continues to provide affordable housing for many families experiencing affordability issues. Our office houses several Housing Counselors certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to do this work. We walk alongside families on their journey to homeownership and empower them to achieve their financial goals. Our clients also receive access to world-class financial education and financial literacy training through our various virtual resources. Our team also offers myriad unique products to help financially challenged families achieve homeownership, including our credit-building program, down payment and closing cost assistance loans, competitive mortgages, homeownership incubators, and our team builds beautiful, sustainable, and affordable houses.
Despite this issue only recently rising to the forefront of community awareness, NeighborWorks Waco has focused on affordable housing for nearly three decades. Furthermore, some of the recommended solutions are ones that we have been working towards. For instance, the housing study suggested a shared-equity housing program to control rising costs and provide an affordable entry to homeownership. NeighborWorks Waco has been discussing exactly this type of innovative resource for years. In 2021 we were finalists for a large grant which would have allowed us to create a shared-equity program, but were saddened not to be awarded the funding. Despite funding difficulties, shared equity remains a topic of exploration at NeighborWorks Waco.
Another solution suggested as a result of the housing study was to increase density in Waco, specifically by adding accessory dwelling units (ADUs). NeighborWorks Waco’s leadership is very familiar with ADUs and their rising popularity across the nation. In fact, we are working with policy makers to ensure that ADUs are considered in future zoning policy. Such accessory dwelling units could provide rental income to homeowners needing a little something extra in terms of affordability. Additionally, these smaller units could add affordable rental units to our community, which might allow renters time to save money as they consider homeownership.
There are many potential solutions to consider to the complex challenges presented by our modern housing market, and NeighborWorks Waco staff strive to be aware of them all. Affordable housing and community development is our business, and has been for 28 years. We will continue to innovate and lead our community as we tackle some very serious challenges and make home ownership affordable for members of our community at ALL income levels.
To find out more about the various programs and services that NeighborWorks Waco offers to our community, reach out to us today at (254) 752-1647 or visit our website at nw-wcao.org.