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      Housing Study Underway to Identify Grand Island's Needs

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      Thousands of Grand Islanders have been asked to sound off on the area's housing.

      It's part of a study the G.I. Economic Development Corporation and the city have commissioned in hopes of finding solutions to growing concerns.

      Marvin Strong bought a home after about a year of searching in the area.

      "It's hard to find a house here," he said. "We moved here from Chicago 18 months ago and houses are hard to find at times."

      That's the kind of information the EDC wants.

      They're hoping thousands of locals will take a survey on the topic - part of study to determine the area's needs.

      "[It'll be] a roadmap of where we need to go and what we need to do in order to have enough affordable housing for our residents," said Mary Berlie, at the EDC.

      She said the results could drive economic development. So far, preliminary research shows the area needs more housing.

      "Currently we have a 3% vacancy rate. It needs to be at a 7% vacancy rate. In addition to that 3 % vacancy, units are only staying on the market for less than 15 days."

      Berlie said that leaves little time to spruce up the homes, meaning they could deteriorate faster.

      It could all be bad for business.

      "There's a huge correlation between businesses trying to recruit and retain their employees and housing. If there's not affordable housing for those employees to relocate to Grand Island, they may not come here," said Berlie.

      But, home buyers like Strong say many of the houses available aren't affordable.

      "In certain classes of houses I think the houses are as expensive here as when I was in Chicago," he said.

      Data like this is being collected quickly with the survey's deadline coming on January 27.

      The last time a study like this was conducted was in 2009.

      The EDC needs 1,000 employed and 1,000 unemployed Grand Islanders to take the survey to get the information they need.

      The study is being done by Hanna:Keelan Associates out of Omaha.

      Take the Survey:

      https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/DLRN9YB

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