Implementation push for affordable housing strategies begins in City of Camdenton

This is the first in a series of articles about city-by-city implementation of recommendations made in a regional housing study sponsored by Lake of the Ozarks Regional Economic Development Council (LOREDC). Camdenton is the first municipality being addressed.
The trend toward mixed use development could be coming to Camdenton as a way to bring more affordable housing to the city.
The city needs more rental housing and more affordable residential lots. One of the implementation strategies suggested to increase rentals is to consider use of commercial building rooftops for additional housing, possibly guided through the use of Tax increment Financing (TIF).
A recent LOREDC Lake Area Housing Study is now being pushed into the implementation phase, providing recommendations on growing affordable housing in communities throughout the region including Camdenton. Lack of affordable housing was found to be a significant issue for the Lake region in the study.
Implementation goals for closing the gap in affordable housing include growing the number of rental units, increasing the supply of affordable lots, encouraging investment in existing housing stock, expanding workforce development to include building trades, investing for success and sharing risk to meet needs that the private market cannot meet alone.
Increasing rental units and increasing the number of affordable building lots are the major areas of focus for the City of Camdenton, according to Roger Corbin, a LOREDC board member, vice chair of the Lake Area Housing Task Force Committee and chair of the subcommittees on rental units and affordable lots. Camdenton City Administrator Jeff Hancock serves as the vice-chair for those two implementation categories.
Camdenton could provide a great location for young, professional families looking to settle down around the Lake, though not necessarily on lakefront properties, with the Camdenton School District, Camden County government and light manufacturing work available, said Corbin. But more affordable housing is needed.
Camden County has seen the largest share of population growth among Morgan, Miller and Laclede counties since 2000, adding more than 8,000 people as of 2010. Miller and Laclede added 2,000 to 3,000 more and Morgan gained approximately 1,200 residents. Additionally, Camden County was the only county out of the four expected to gain population from 2010 to 2014 while the other three were projected to slightly decline.
According to the study, cities within Camden County showed a 2.4 percent annual growth rate compared to 1.5 percent for Lake areas, 1.6 percent for rural areas, and 1.7 percent total for the entire county. During the last decade, Corbin said, Camdenton experienced a 2 percent annual growth rate, and probably would have been more if not for the Great Recession and a decrease in available lots.
“To support a population of 4,416 by 2025, Camdenton will need to produce 240 additional housing units,” according to the study, which indicated Camdenton could capture a greater share of regional growth than its municipal neighbors.
Corbin made several specific recommendations for the city that primarily focused on growing the number of multi-family rental units with a suggestion to pre-plan environments suitable for multi-family developments.
Corbin explained that prior to the Great Recession, Camdenton was close to keeping up with the need for housing, but a backlog of multi-family, duplex and single-family residences built up from 2009 to 2014.
According to building permits issued by Camdenton, no multi-unit or duplexes were planned from 2011-2014. There were 18 multi-family residential units permitted in 2015, 11 single-family residences and no duplexes. Camdenton had been averaging about 30 single-family units a year for approximately five years from 2005 to 2010 until the economic downturn
Corbin also suggested to inventory and publicize vacant lots, while exploring public land bank concepts and promoting federal and state housing rehabilitation programs such as not-for-profit housing development corporations.
“Rental market rates at $400-$500 is not excessive compared to many other markets and is the minimum rent required for one-bedroom, new construction,” according to Corbin. “The housing cost struggle for many residents is likely more related to the region’s stagnant and lower incomes than rental values.”
The City of Camdenton has a slightly higher average of median rent compared to Camden County and Osage Beach, though much less than the Village of Four Seasons. According to the study data, the average rent in Camdenton was $509 a month compared to $491 for Camden County, $487 for Osage Beach and $721 for Four Seasons. The average Camdenton citizen paying more than 30 percent of his or her median income on rental housing was 39.1 percent compared to 45.7 percent in the county, 54.7 percent in Osage Beach and 29.7 percent in Four Seasons.
Camdenton also has the lowest average home value between the four locations listed at $123,600 with approximately 36.1 percent of residents paying more than 30 percent of the owner value compared to 34 percent in the county, 8.8 percent in Osage Beach and 18.4 percent in Four Seasons.
According to the LOREDC study, rental housing units were listed as the greatest shortage of housing in the area with a need for multi-family structures. But there are challenges related to planning and zoning issues that currently prevent multi-use commercial and residential buildings.
One recommendation specific to Camdenton was exploring the use of commercial building rooftops for additional housing that would incentivize businesses and tackle one of the challenges of housing shortages.
Potentially challenging recommendations included the use of TIF and other tax incentives to promote mixed-use development, or pooling risk funds through community development corporations.
Through the mechanisms of TIFs and other tax abatements, governments could require a certain amount of residential units - likely multi-family - go with certain commercial retail proposals, according to Corbin.
The City of Osage Beach recently approved a TIF for a redevelopment with just this concept. At the current site of the Golden Door Motel and Jake’s Steakhouse, Osage Beach Commons is mainly a retail development. The Landing in Branson includes multi-family dwelling units.
According to Corbin, it’s typical for cities to over-zone for commercial and not have balanced zoning. One way to get around taking commercial zoning away in favor of residential is to instead find a way to require some residential units within a commercial development.
There also appears to be a shortage of affordable lots in the area with available properties tied into property owners associations, though Corbin said Camdenton had several areas of land available for development including redevelopment opportunities on Old Highway 5 and infilling within city limits.
Corbin also suggested the city explore the extension of water and sewer utilities to topographically flat areas just outside the city that can potentially accommodate housing development to incentivize developers to invest in new construction.
Two of Corbin’s suggestions appear to be addressed in Camdenton’s 2017-2018 budget draft proposal. Under priority items included in next year’s budget, the first item on the list is “Future Land Use Map/Compatibility,” which states the Matrix/Land Use map is complete, but the city is proposing $10,000 from the Special Revenue Fund to upgrade its zoning ordinance which should complete the upgrade process.
The second to last item on the priority list includes providing rental housing for all income levels, which states staff implementation to follow after receiving suggestions from the housing study implementation committee.
In August 2016, Compass Health Network announced plans to build a 24-unit rental housing project on South Business Route 5 within city limits contingent on rezoning and federal grant awards. Additionally, two duplex units were denied rezoning applications in August 2017 after citizens expressed concerns related to POA covenants.