Perry is a Central Iowa city of about 7,000 or 8,000 souls, part of the Des Moines-West Des Moines statistical area. It was, once, a major railroad junction, right there along the North Raccoon River. Now, there are about 760-some households per square mile, and the median age of the population there is 33.3, with about half the people there in the prime-home buying age ranges from 25 to 64.
And you know what else? The city motto is "make yourself at home."
And you know what else? According to this news story from Business Record senior staff writer Kent Darr:
"One permit for a new, single-family home has been issued since 2010."
So, since the city's motto is "make yourself at home," but nobody seems to be getting the message, the city decided to do something about it. They're offering a 100% tax abatement of property taxes on new residential construction for five years, followed by a sliding scale in years six through 10. What's more there's an abatement for remodeling projects that add $20,000 or more in assessed value, for a five-year 100% abatement of the value of the improvements. Darr quotes Perry City Administrator Sven Peterson here:
"Hopefully this program will encourage new home home development for current residents to upgrade homes as well as provide options to attract new residents to our community," Peterson said in an email. "We feel that our community has wonderful amenities, but we needed to offer an incentive to encourage that new home building."
What a bright idea!
Our HIVE dean for demographics, Dowell Myers, professor of policy, planning, and demography in the Sol Price School of Public Policy at USC, says, "housing has a public relations problem."
What he means is that municipal leaders like Perry, Iowa's Sven Peterson are an all-too rare exception. Most elected and appointed local, regional, and national officials merely think of what they can extract from new residential development and home building in the form of new fees and required spending.
They're not thinking like a town who's promise is "make yourself at home."
The result is scenarios like this one, which crazily, involves a number of Silicon Valley enterprise workers who are going the "distributed, remote" workforce route, and finding homes where they don't cost so much. Like Detroit. So, Bay Area communities are now, and more and more in the future, going to be experiencing a drain of younger residents.
We think this challenge is solvable, if you look at it like our HIVE dean Dowell Myers looks at it. As a public relations problem. City and town officials may not know it, but they need young people to be able to live in their environs.
Maybe it's a property tax abatement. Maybe it's an investment of another kind to keep them living there. Find out more by registering here now for HIVE.
Note: I will be on vacation for the week of Aug. 1 through Aug. 5, and am deeply indebted to my talented and committed crew on the Residential Construction content team for covering for me while I'm re-storing depleted internal resources. See you Aug. 8!