Wyoming cost of living rise making it hard to find housing

Published: Apr. 29, 2021 at 8:16 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - According to the latest report by the Wyoming Cost of Living Index, the last quarter of 2020 indicated that the housing category went up 3.2% in inflation.

Housing tends to be make up the largest part of a consumer’s budget that tends to drive up costs in Wyoming’s cost of living index.

But Laramie county is not alone; nationwide, there’s been a huge demand for housing. Low-interest rates have been a contributing factor driving people to want to buy homes, creating greater demand.

Laramie county saw its vacancy rate decrease from 6.4 percent in December 2019 to 5.7 percent in December 2020.

Sweetwater county had a vacancy rate of 15.5 percent, while Laramie county had a vacancy rate of 3.2 percent.

Wyomingites are driven into and out of areas based on the types of jobs and economic opportunities. The demand for housing due to population change also drives that.

“Where people choose to live based on, are people going to move out of more urban areas to more rural areas? Are they going to move to areas where maybe there is a lower cost of living? It’ll be very interesting to see, the low interest rates are very appealing. If you can find, a house you can afford. Maybe people want to get into their own home, versus living in an apartment. That also has an impact on housing.”

Amy Bittner- Principle Economist- State WY Economic Analysis Division

COVID-19 is also impacting where people live. They are choosing to live in less populated areas are working remotely. Places that were huge workforces in big urban cities are no longer appealing. Most people try to find houses in areas they can afford, shifting the number of native homeowners to new transplants.

“A house may go up for sale and the next day it’s sold, because everybody’s looking to move in, they’re moving out of higher cost places.”

Scott Hoverland- Executive Director - WCDA

The Wyoming Community Development Authority (WCDA) helps finance affordable housing in the state, providing income limits, purchase price limits, and loans that finance affordable housing for first-time homebuyers.

They also provide resources for the rental markets, financing affordable rental properties, and help finance developers build affordable rental units through various federal programs.

They do this through the investment partnership act funds, the national housing trust fund, the low-income housing tax credit. They also issue tax-exempt bonds on the open market to investors. Those bonds are tax-exempt from federal income tax, getting a lower rate of funds. Then those proceeds are used to purchase mortgages for first-time homebuyers.

Hoverland hopes affordable housing will be part of the incoming infrastructure stimulus under Biden.

“If Infrastructure decides to cover homeownership too and building new homes. Well, we’ll look at that and we’re kind of watching that and any new legislation that comes out from Washington.”

Scott Hoverland- Executive Director - WCDA

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