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Pressure eases

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The latest annual survey by Jefferson Community College’s Center for Community Studies shows a marked improvement in the housing market in Jefferson County.

Community leaders have spent enormous amounts of time and effort working for the last three years to respond to the escalating demand for housing. Watching rents rise and the stress on non-military families struggling in a languid job market to pay the rent, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the state earmarked millions of dollars in housing incentives to alleviate the pressure.

The JCC survey substantiates that the commitment has paid off. More than 40 percent of respondents said that the housing market was in better shape this year, the second-highest percentage since the inception of the study’s analysis in 2005. Last year, only 28 percent thought the market was better. Even better news was the dramatic decline in the number of respondents saying the market was worse. Only 26 percent rated the market worse, down from 39 percent the year before and 57 percent in 2006.

This is the first year that JCC asked about the affordability of housing. More than 57 percent of respondents said affordability was a major problem. The age groups most concerned with the cost of housing were under 50 years of age, with 70 percent of the 30-year-old age group worried about affordability. The concern was consistent by income and education level. Homeowners were slightly less concerned, while 68 percent of the renters in the survey said affordability was a major issue. The ratio of renters and owners has remained consistent over the years of the survey.

In response to the question of whether housing was both safe and affordable, 90 percent of respondents said yes. Only one person in the survey said the house they lived in was unsafe.

Working with the governor, the Development Authority of the North Country, the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization and Jefferson County have encouraged major developers to build large-scale apartment complexes. Beaver Meadows, just behind Target, opened this week, with the first 20 families moving into spacious apartments. On County Route 202, Morgan Management of Pittsford is building 394 apartments, the first of which will be ready by July 15. Starwood, Creek Wood and Summit Wood complexes have opened in the city. New houses are being built throughout the county by individuals and small entrepreneurs. Old housing is being rehabilitated.

The partnership between government and private developers has made more quality housing available and changed the dynamic of the market place. The JCC survey shows the positive change in public attitudes on the progress. The public perception of the improved housing market should provide comfort to those who recognize that public-private partnerships working with property tax jurisdictions can make a difference in a community by providing more affordable housing.

This significant change in attitudes came despite the whining of some taxing jurisdictions, which should now understand just how important this new housing is and why the state and local incentives are so important to accommodate residents worried about affordability.

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