WINCHESTER – A local housing study published last week does more than show what types of housing are needed most in Winchester; it also provides a global overview of the community.

The study, commissioned late last year by City Council as a way for the panel to gain a better understanding of current housing availability and affordability, shows that Winchester is made up of people on financial conditions. various, young people struggling from paycheck to paycheck to financially secure retired couples who see the city as an ideal retirement destination.

The study reveals that 56% of current urban housing is rented, while the remaining 44% is owned by residents. Winchester Development Services Director Shawn Hershberger said it was a typical balance for a growing city.

Currently there are 6,617 rental units in Winchester and 4,985 more homes purchased. The majority of tenants (43.1%) are between 25 and 44 years old, while the majority of owners (44.7%) are between 45 and 64 years old. When you flip the categories, it reveals that only 18.6% of city residents aged 25 to 44 own a home, and 33.9% of residents aged 45 to 64 are renters.

According to the study, homeowners tend to earn more than those who rent them out. Only 28% of the city’s current tenants earn or exceed the US Department of Housing and Urban DevelopmentThe median household income (HUD) of $ 81,400 per year, while about 60% of homeowners have an annual household income of at least $ 81,400 per year.

Renting is the most popular option for people who live alone. The study indicates that 41.9% of rentals are occupied by a single person, while 24.6% of homes purchased have only one resident. These numbers change when individuals become couples. Two-person households make up 23% of rental housing in the city, while 40% of homes purchased have two residents.

Winchester is made up of 9.3 square miles of land with no foreseeable potential for expansion, but the city’s population continues to grow. In order to house the estimated 28,000 residents while making a profit, developers over the past decade have focused on multi-unit buildings, townhouses and condominiums available for rental. In addition, according to the study, many owners of single-family homes have converted their units to multi-family apartments.

The developers also served the economic majority of Winchester, which is the middle class. As a result, many homes are available for rent or purchase by people earning between 50% and 120% of the HUD median household income of $ 81,400 per year.

The problem lies in the scarcity of housing for the lower class and the upper class.

Currently, Winchester has 1,360 households that earn 30% or less of the median HUD household income per year. According to the study, only 120 homes owned by Winchester are valued at $ 102,660 or less, and only 188 rental units have monthly rents of $ 489 or less. These amounts are what HUD claims to be the highest that should be paid by a household earning 30% or less of the median household income.

At the opposite end of the scale, 3,366 households earn 120% or more of the median HUD household income per year. However, there are only 502 houses owned by Winchester valued at $ 477,154 or more, and only 33 rental units that charge $ 1,968 per month in rent. HUD says these are the amounts that should be paid by households earning 120% or more of median household income and spending the recommended 30% of their monthly income on housing payments.

Surprising as it may sound, Hershberger said the lack of high-end housing is just as damaging to Winchester’s most vulnerable residents as the shortage of affordable housing. This is because people who could afford to pay more for a house end up buying or renting something cheaper because they can’t find anything in their price range. This starts a trickle-down effect on housing supply, eventually reaching the point where middle-class households scavenge lower-value properties and further deplete the city’s already low stock of affordable housing.

The information from the housing study will be used over the next few years to help city council determine what types of residential development are most needed, such as affordable and upscale housing. Winchester is still a growing city, Hershberger said, so the problems identified today will only get worse unless local government begins to address the areas of concern highlighted in the study. .


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