"In Osage Beach, 54 percent of residents are overburdened in the area of rental expense," he explained. "That means residents are paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing expense."

Osage Beach appears to be ripe for the expansion of workforce housing.

That's the conclusion offered by the co-chairman the Lake of the Ozarks Regional Economic Development Council Housing Committee who is criss-crossing the lake to tout the findings of a detailed study of the local housing market.

Roger Corbin, who's also city planner for Sunrise Beach and the local coordinator for the U.S. Census, told the Osage Beach Board of Aldermen recently that the study -- conducted by RDG Planning and Design of Omaha -- found that many lake-area communities are "housing burdened."

"In Osage Beach, 54 percent of residents are overburdened in the area of rental expense," he explained. "That means residents are paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing expense."

That compares to 45 percent in Camden County and a low of 29 percent in the Village of Four Seasons.

"The key thing from this is that you do need rental units and you need them badly," he said.

LOREDC sponsored the $40,000 study which looked at the housing market in Camden, Miller, Morgan and Laclede counties. Generally, the study found that the area is underserved when it comes to affordable rental and single-family housing. Nearly every city and village within the three-county area was offered suggested goals for housing over the next decade.

According to Osage Beach City Administrator Jeana Woods, the study is a "strategic road map" that identifies current and future housing priorities. Without adequate housing, jobs and tax base growth are limited, she offered.

Corbin concurred.

"My hope as you review the material is that you will realize that we really need workforce housing for residents who not only live here but for our visitors and for those who work here but live outside the area," Corbin said.

One solution is for communities to support the creation of multi-family units and rental units, he offered.

As outlined in the study, goals for Osage Beach include:

•Grow the number of rental units by revisiting the Comprehensive Plan, pre-planning multi-family zoning environments, etc.

•Increase the supply of affordable lots and ensure balanced zoning to promote housing opportunities

•Invest in success by extending utilities to areas not currently served within the city limits, and outside the city limits to encourage development and then annexation

•Share risks to meet the needs that the private market cannot by using development tools such as Tax Increment Financing; mixed-use development promoting housing; the use of the Community Investment Act concepts

According to the study, Osage Beach needs to create 145-150 new housing units per year to meet the anticipated need. The city should create a housing market that attracts people who live outside the area but who work here, Corbin said. In fact, he said Lake Regional Health Services would expand its workforce if local housing was available.

LOREDC is initiating a vacant lot study in Osage Beach to locate lots that are suitable for construction. There are potential building lots east of Osage Beach adjacent to Highway 42 in the Kaiser area; and along Rt. KK on Turkey Bend. Both areas are outside the city limits, but expanding water and sewer utilities in those areas could be an incentive for voluntarily annexation into the city where the cost of utilities would be lower.

Of the estimated 300 unites that need to be generated over the next decade in Osage Beach, 78 units should be priced below $130,000 and 42 units should have rents below $450 a month. That level of monthly rental won't happen, officials said, without sate and federal subsidies.

According to the Osage Beach Housing Study profile, more affordable housing units are often difficult to produce. Current housing costs in Osage Beach make it difficult for young families and those in entry-level or service-oriented positions to find housing.

Economic development is closely tied to a health housing market.

"Economic development includes many factors," Osage Beach Mayor John Olivarri said. "And housing is one of them. We have been more sensitive to this aspect and are taking a closer look. We now realize there is a need for affordable workforce housing."

City Planner Cary Patterson, who sat on the LOREDC Housing Committee, said the study is a good tool for not only the city but for developers.

"I don't think there was ever a time that we didn't realize that to be more competitive and to serve the community better that we needed more housing," Patterson said.

Building 150 units is "exceptionally aggressive," he added, noting he doesn't think that's possible since the typography and geology of the area don't translate into massive development complexes at an affordable price.

Mayor Olivarri lauded LOREDC's work, noting the group has put together a workable program that can be a tool for developers, banks, and multiple organizations in changing the housing market at the lake.