Study to help leaders better understand Oberlin housing market

A housing market analysis of Oberlin properties could help city officials learn more about local needs and better plan development.

The idea was pitched by city manager Eric Norenberg in May after the city’s low- and medium-income housing development, the Green Acres project, was tabled indefinitely. Council revisited the analysis Monday.

The firm that worked on Green Acres, The Community Builders, conducted its own evaluation but focused on the type of property the group intended to build. Its study did not cover all of Oberlin.

Norenberg said he wants to provide officials with a short term — five to 10 years — picture of housing supply and demand in town.

“Other commissions are going to find this useful as well,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of commissions that will benefit from having this study completed.”

City council members forwarded the market study request to the planning commission Wednesday, asking for feedback about areas on which the study should focus.

It is expected to address the state of existing properties, look at demographics and economics of households, determine what resources are available, what’s needed, foreclosures, identify gaps in housing, and classify the types of housing built in the city — affordable, middle-income, or green houses.

Commission member Bryan Stubbs suggested that the final report be compared with another city similar to Oberlin.

Member Peter Crowley said it’s a good first step but he wants the city to have an ongoing monitoring system like a policy map of each parcel in Oberlin.

The topic is expected to be raised again when council convenes at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.