A Cullman area housing needs assessment — noting economic trends, market, socio-economic and demographic data — was unveiled Tuesday, noting needs of businesses trying to attract and retain employees and a growing demand for more options for potential and current residents.
Sanctioned by the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce as part of its Converging for Success five-year plan, the assessment takes into account existing and future housing needs for Cullman County, the demand for multi-family residential developments as well affordable and more upscale single-family dwellings.
James Gilleylen of J-Quad Planning Group began conducting a series of sessions about the plan Tuesday at the Chamber of Commerce.
A Tuesday afternoon session with real estate and housing development representatives raised discussions on the socio-economic structure of Cullman County to the thriving industrial and retail environment in the area.
“The trends don’t say you are growing in leaps and bounds, but you are growing. People are buying houses,” Gilleylen said. “You have what a lot of cities want.”
Gilleylen said the robust economic environment in the Cullman area, with a population that is growing slowly, is eclectic in some respects. But he also said the availability of housing in varying ranges, including multi-family developments, could affect future economic growth.
“Industries are not a monolith,” Gilleylen said. “When they hire employees there are tiers to what they are paid, which creates a need for a wide range of housing options. What we know is that people want more options than what are available now.”
He specifically noted that Cullman and Hanceville need design standards to protect downtown qualities. But he also noted that policy discussions and implementation of plans that allow redevelopment of areas such as west Cullman would create new housing opportunities.
Among the vast areas covered in the assessment was a need for financial education for individuals and families who earn moderate incomes who may qualify for purchasing homes.
The need to examine government policy and regulatory changes, with respect to existing housing integrity was also noted.
Depending on demands, developments can be established that include rental apartment or town homes, garden homes and single-family dwellings.
The Chamber of Commerce has copies of the assessment that can be reviewed. Additional details of the study will continue to be provided through presentations.