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The Valley could use some new housing

A recent housing study done for the City of Valley as part of a new comprehensive plan for the city has some revealing information, not just for the city but also for Chambers County and the state of Alabama.

Ryan Kallem, the principal planner for the East Alabama Regional Planning & Development Commission discussed details of the study at the Monday meeting of the Valley City Council.

Housing is an enormously important factor in the potential growth of any given community.

“It’s one of the most fundamental topics in relation to community needs,” Kallem said. “In order for a community to grow and prosper, there must be a diverse and satisfactory amount of quality housing available.”

The study points to how important new home construction is for the future of a community. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the construction of 1,000 new homes generates close to 3,000 new jobs, over $160 million in wages, nearly $120 million in business income and more than $110 million in tax revenue for state, local and federal governments.

Valley, Chambers County and the state of Alabama are all above the national average in terms of people living in single-family homes. The national average is slightly above the two-thirds mark (67.4 percent). Valley, Chambers County and Alabama are all above the 70 percent mark. The problem is that a high percentage of those home are old and not in the best of condition.

The typical U.S. home is valued at around $180,000. The average home in Alabama is valued at around $125,000. In Valley and Chambers County as a whole? It’s around $80,000.

There’s a clear need for new home construction in the local area. On the plus side, Mayor Leonard Riley said that he would be working with developers over the next four or five years to encourage the building of some new subdivisions in the city.

If the area is to grow, new housing is needed to keep young people from moving away and to attract young families to the city. According to local realtor Debbie Wood, a strong trend among millennials is that they want to live in new housing. 25 years ago couples were content to purchase existing homes and remodel them. Today’s young adult generation is flocking to areas where new home construction is going up, places like Opelika-Auburn, LaGrange and Newnan. As far as the Valley goes, that train left the station some time ago, and it’s going to take some work to get it to stop here on the next trip around.