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Housing Availability Costs Jobs in White Pine County

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White Pine County's long history has created a charm that points directly to or buildings in many respects. Our homes tend to be older with renovations and remodels through the years to keep them livable and up to code as well as they can keep up with.

However, economic turbulence, social splits for political differences, and even deeper than that, the way we look at the world has shifted over the past few years. The emergence of Covid-19 shook the world in all of the ways one could imagine and much more. The use of the internet overhauled the way people looked at work, and employers questioned whether or not they needed people to be at an in-person establishment anyways.

Unemployment rates broke national records; natural disasters exposed the inefficiencies of our infrastructures and how we go about making sure that our communities are prepared for the worst. Financial markets have become more volatile, and inflation has peaked at 6.2% in 2021, the highest it has been since 1990, while the national average for the past ten years sits at around 2.4%.

This and many more social issues that we currently face have caused massive shifts in what people want to do for their careers, where they want to live, and why.

White Pine County has all the potential and resilience a thriving community should; however, many businesses cannot find qualified people to hire, and more common these days, qualified people cannot find a place to live. As a result, the ability to fill open positions and produce new jobs with time is stifled by a lack of available homes for people to live in. In addition, those who might choose to live here because of the smaller population size, access to outdoor activities, and tighter community feel have trouble deciding to move here simply because it is difficult to find a place to rent or buy.

Access to rental and property listing online has removed the need for people to visit before making a move. California's housing market and overall high cost of living, coupled with the aforementioned social issues, have led to an exodus to neighboring states, namely Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, and Utah.

White Pine County is remote enough so that those who move here have made a conscious choice explicitly based on the location or for specific work. It doesn't matter which reason brought them here, though. Unfortunately, the same issue persists; there is not enough available housing.

Within White Pine County, there are several reasons for this. First, the amount of existing homes within WPC is limited; however, many property owners who live here and abroad do not rent their houses or sell them, and they sit empty while the home deteriorates. Each owner might have various reasons for this, perhaps waiting for the real estate market to climb higher before selling, which makes sense since the national average home price has gone up 16.2% since last year. For some, the idea of renting their home and having it harmed by a poor renter is out of the question. Whatever the reason, once again, we find ourselves without enough homes for those who need them.

New developers have trickled in a little bit, and talks and construction of new subdivisions are in the works, but new construction is down, just as the price for homes is going up in line with national inflation. In addition, lumber costs are at all-time highs, tripling in the last year, gas prices soar, and these are just some of the factors that contribute to slowing any incentive to start new construction projects.

These are not issues isolated to WPC, of course; the nation faces an uncertain time where reasonable expectations based on previous trends are not reliable. Even as mortgage rates see record lows, rising home prices and supply shortages have offset the drop in rates that would swing our real estate market in the other direction.

Mortgage rate drops, and FHA assistance programs were designed to get more people back into the market. Loan officers and mortgage brokers set first-time homebuyers, refi, investors, and anyone getting into the market to benefit. Many would say that bankers and loan officers are also to blame to some degree for the real estate "bubbles" we have been floating in since the Trump administration's term and earlier, and now making things easier for homebuyers is too little too late. Either way, our current economic climate is making the issue glaringly obvious.

As a county, finding a solution to these problems should not be difficult to overcome. If any industry gets creative more than any of its real estate, there are ways that we can build more, renovate more and rent more homes to create space for new workers who want to be a part of our communities.

Homes sitting empty and in disrepair can be torn and reconstructed if the cost of remodels and bringing them up to code is too high. If the issue is the cost of repairs after a renter with a lousy history trashes it, landlords must either prepare for this inevitability financially or vet their tenants more thoroughly.

Even if we take slow steps towards finding a solution to this problem, and not all of our attempts work out, it is certainly better than losing out on skilled labor and business expansion simply because people who would move here or want to can't.

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