The message is becoming clearer and clearer. There is a bourgeoning need for affordable housing in the Lake area to accommodate service industry employees and others whose modest incomes prevent them from owning a respectable home.

The message is becoming clearer and clearer.

There is a bourgeoning need for affordable housing in the Lake area to accommodate service industry employees and others whose modest incomes prevent them from owning a respectable home. Amy Hasse, senior partner with RDG Planning and Design, noted in a recent LOREDC Housing Committee meeting that two incomes are often required to afford a lot of the housing in the Lake area.

The Lake of the Ozarks Regional Economic Development Council is sponsoring a massive study of the housing market through the Omaha-based RDG company. LOREDC officials knew going into the study that a healthy economic development plan is closely tied to a healthy housing market.

The research and data collected by RDG officials is showing the need is so great that transient employees are living elsewhere and driving to work in the Lake area; that employees are living in substandard housing because there’s a shortage of quality, affordable housing; that there’s a growing level of frustration within communities as to how to address the issues.

And to add insult to injury, a recent report by the National Low Incoming Housing Coalition says that to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent in Missouri, renters need to earn $14.98 per hour. Problem is, the typical renter in Missouri earns $12.74 an hour, well below what the Washington, D.C.-based coalition says is needed.

Sadly, one of the reasons the emphasis at the Lake hasn’t been on middle-income housing is because that isn’t where the money is. The larger, $300,000-plus homes drive the market here where profit margins and commissions are larger. And rental units can often bring headaches that investors aren’t willing to tolerate.

The affordable housing shortfall is everyone’s problem, and if not addressed could result in the loss of employees and ultimately people to other communities where housing is adequate.