As businesses in the area continue to seek a local workforce, McKinney is looking to incentivize housing initiatives that will allow potential employees to afford living in the city.
It’s a need that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, McKinney Chamber of Commerce President Lisa Hermes recently told City Council members, but businesses have been pointing out the issue for years.
“As companies are looking to recruit workers, including young professionals, teachers, manufacturing, distribution, hospitality, entry level positions, just to name a few, this has become an increasingly troublesome issue for companies in McKinney to not only attract but also retain a talented workforce,” Hermes said during a Sept. 28 City Council work session meeting.
Hermes said she applauded the city’s efforts to work towards a balanced housing stock in the city both for the present and future.
“It needs to be recognized that some of the largest property tax payers are not finding their workforce in McKinney, increasing their risk of leaving our community,” she said.
In 2020, the city completed a housing needs analysis. The study revealed four main housing needs for McKinney, which included a need for more affordable rentals for residents earning less than $35,000; starter homes and workforce housing priced near or below $200,000; increased housing product diversity and strategic redevelopment and condition improvements.
Since the study’s completion, city council members have given direction based on the findings, and the city is now looking to address those needs, said Janay Tieken, Housing and Community Development director with the city of McKinney.
Currently, Tieken said, the McKinney Housing Finance Corporation is appointing a subcommittee to look at creating a request for quotes for affordable multifamily rentals in an effort to address the need for affordable rentals.
“One of the main reasons that housing is not affordable is because the land is so expensive, and I think that’s an issue all over North Texas,” she said.
As a result, she said, the city has identified grant funding sources and has programmed $200,000, approved by the City Council, to buy vacant lots for building infill housing and to put out a request for quotes for developers to build something on those lots, she said.
The city is also looking at maintaining existing affordable housing, Tieken said. Efforts include a property maintenance program funded through the McKinney Community Development Corporation and a grant-funded rehabilitation program for income-eligible residents that Tieken said can come at no cost to residents.
In addition, she said, the city planning department’s current efforts to update its development regulations will aim in part to make it easier to develop different housing types and provide more flexibility.
As Tieken puts it, the role of the city is to incentivize the housing that the city needs to attract what employers are looking for.
“If it’s purely market-driven without incentivizing what we know we need from an economic development standpoint, then you may end up with too much of one type of product or too much of another type of product,” she said. “And the goal is really to have a balanced housing product so that we have a good healthy median age, that the companies that want to relocate here or are already here are able to find the workforce that they need.”