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A new report finds Wyoming needs 3,000 more homes to address its housing shortage

Color coded map of the United States showing how many housing units each state is short. Every state is facing housing underproduction.
Up For Growth
A new report details the scale of the housing crisis nationwide. A demographic shift from urban to suburban, small-town and rural counties has increased the number of counties dealing with housing underproduction.

A new report from Up For Growth shows Wyoming is short more than 3,000 homes — and that more households are facing severe cost burdens than just a few years ago.

Up For Growth is a nonprofit that brings together a variety of stakeholders, from the National Association of Realtors to Habitat for Humanity and more than 200 other groups across the nation with an interest in housing.

The nonprofit's latest report shows that the United States is short almost four million homes and that the number of counties lacking homes has increased 31 percent since 2019. In Wyoming, the state would need another 3,000 residential units to address its housing shortage, according to the report.

"What this report found first and foremost is that the crisis is rapidly spreading," said Mike Kingsella, the CEO of Up For Growth.

Kingsella said the pandemic accelerated a population shift from cities to suburban, small-town and rural areas. But those places so far haven't been able to keep up with the increased demand.

"What we're seeing across the country is (not) production falling off a cliff in suburban small-town and rural communities," Kingsella said. "It's more we're seeing this groundswell in demand."

More people are now experiencing housing as a severe cost burden than they were 40 years ago.
Up For Growth
More people are now experiencing housing as a severe cost burden than they were 40 years ago.

There are several pressures keeping these smaller and more rural places from meeting that new demand.

"There's a saying that it takes four things to get housing out of the ground," Kingsella said. "You need land, you need lumber, you need labor, and you need lending, or the availability of money."

Rural places like Wyoming face difficulties on each of these fronts. But Kingsella said these are solvable problems. For example, he said allowing denser housing in multi-family zones and legalizing accessory dwelling units in single-family zones are two ways of increasing the supply of housing.

"We need to build 10 million more homes over the current pace of homebuilding, in the next 10 years, in order to close the gap between the housing that we have and the housing that we need," Kingsella said. "We've fallen into this shortage, not over a period of years, but a period of decades, and so it will take time to get out of this hole that we find ourselves in."

The report features essays and analyses from representatives of various sectors — from realtors to academics — on topics ranging from the history of housing underproduction to the impact affordable housing has on education.

Jeff is a part-time reporter for Wyoming Public Media, as well as the owner and editor of the Laramie Reporter, a free online news source providing in-depth and investigative coverage of local events and trends.

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