When Will Rent Decrease?
Since I was first elected in 2017, Sioux City, in many ways, has gone through a transformation and has seen a number of improvements. As a City Council, we have invested in our roads and underground infrastructure in unprecedented ways, thanks in large part to the American Rescue Plan. We have expanded our parks and amenities, including a number of splash pads in various neighborhoods, the addition of the Expo Center, and the complete riverfront redevelopment, which will be completed shortly.
While I can point to a list of accomplishments and steps forward, there is certainly more work to be done. In the same time span, the one thing that jumps out to me that has swung the other way has been our rental prices. I understand the issue can be multifaceted and there are perhaps a number of reasons rent in Sioux City initially jumped – it was the sudden influx of housing for large scale projects such as CF Industries or maybe there was/is a shortage of units and that pushed rates higher. No matter the reason, rent in our community has risen to a level that has people talking. I worry that our efforts to retain recent college graduates, young families, and a company’s ability to recruit new talent may be thwarted by our inability to offer entry-level homes or affordable apartments.
However, the first step to changing something is admitting there’s a problem. I recognize it’s a problem. One of the reasons I chose to write about this topic in this form is to let you know what the City Council has done to try to combat rising rent. Perhaps the most important tool we have is the balance of supply and demand. If a supply shortage was to blame, surely we are (or at least I hope we are) getting closer to balancing them. We continue to work with many developers to add housing options in Sioux City, and, in some cases, incentivize it. The City incentivizes various types of housing to promote and develop all levels of housing, including low income housing (ie. West 3rd Asher Apartments and Everett School conversion), affordable housing on Center Street, market rate single family and townhomes, downtown condos, etc. In addition to the large number of new apartment units in our community, we have utilized city-wide tax abatement to increase the number of single-family and multi-family homes.
Although rent prices have increased locally, it’s important to note that they are rising across the country. Sioux City is still one of the most affordable places to live. In fact, earlier this year realtor.com ranked Sioux City as the #5 Trendiest City in the U.S. Where You Can Still Afford To Buy A Home.
While we have seen the number of available units and homes increase, rent prices have not dropped the way that perhaps some hoped they would. We must continue thinking creatively about how we can address this problem and what solutions we can find to these problems. As always, if you have ideas, I’m all ears!
By Alex Watters