Photo by Jay Huff
Dilapidated house on West 4th.
Photo by Jay Huff
Unpainted house on East 8th
North Platte has too many substandard rental houses, Nancy Streibel told the city council a month ago. Streibel, the director of the Lincoln County Community Development Corp., presented some ideas on how to address the issue.
Streibel’s Development Corporation receives state, federal and county money to upgrade a few homes each year in the county.
Striebel asked the council to add some teeth to existing city housing standards and fill some gaps in city regulations. She said her major concern, which should also be a concern of the council, is the health and safety of those who live in substandard homes.
She said the city has an ordinance that provides for a city health inspector, but a health inspector has never been appointed.
Streibel said that city standards for mobile homes, mobile home parks and rental houses are not stout enough. She said there are virtually no standards in place for mobile homes and some standards need to be improved that are in place for duplexes and apartments.
Streibel cited a 2010 comprehensive housing study by the firm of Hannah-Keelan, which showed that 41 percent of homes in North Platte are more than 50-years-old and 30 percent are more than 60.
Most of the homes are in good shape but some need to be addressed, she said.
She said one option is to relocate residents from the most dilapidated houses and demolish the buildings.
According to 2010 study, 578 homes in North Platte need moderate-to-extensive rehabilitation and 122 houses need to be demolished.
Councilman Martin Steinbeck noted that the size of the problems makes it difficult to relocate residents. Streibel said with better standards the problem would diminish over time. Stricter standards would help, enforced by city building inspectors.
The study said better housing is sorely needed is for low-income seniors. Also, the study said more homes are need for low-to-middle income families, such as three-bedroom apartments or houses for first-time home buyers.
The low availability of solid rental units for an affordable price presents a big obstacle to workforce renters trying to move to North Platte, she said. The cost of housing and utilities are big problems.
Concerns among homeowners range from oppressive property taxes to neighboring homes that lower property values.
John Winchell lives in the 1900 block of West Third. He has concerns about nearby homes that are run down. Winchell said he is virtually surrounded by them.
He said he “will never again just accept the tax bill on my home without contesting it because of these bad houses and how they run the neighborhood down, lowering the actual value of my home.”
Another homeowner on the north side of town who asked not to use his name for fear of reprisals said there is “a lot of junk out there that are rentals. Seems some landlords buy these properties and won’t invest any money or time to repair them.”