The city of Meridian is working with a consultant to survey the community about housing needs.

The Resident Housing Choice Survey was open from Feb. 1 to 15. The results will help shape Meridian's goals for the Community Development Block Grant program over the next five years.

“The survey feeds that plan to some degree and says, 'OK, here are some of the needs in your community,'” Meridian city planner Caleb Hood said.

The housing survey also alerts public officials to discrimination or other fair housing obstacles in Meridian.

The city must conduct this survey every five years to receive federal funding for the Community Development Block Grant program. This program supports projects aimed at boosting housing and economic opportunities for low- to moderate-income residents.

The grant program this fiscal year has more than $350,000 available. About $290,000 of that will fund Meridian projects such as installing street lighting and sidewalks in low-income areas; funding scholarships at the Boys & Girls Club; and supporting the Meridian Food Bank and homelessness prevention organizations, to name a few. The rest will go toward administrative costs.

The housing survey was distributed online and through several locations such as Meridian City Hall, library branches, the Meridian Food Bank and affordable housing communities.

Another factor that will influence Meridian's plan for the grant program are interview responses from stakeholders involved in housing, homelessness and low-income services, Hood said.

Meridian has hired Denver-based BBC Research & Consulting for this project, the same firm hired five years ago.

The results of this year's survey will go before the Meridian City Council this spring.

QUESTIONS

Questions on the survey include:

  • Do you own or rent?
  • Have you experienced homelessness in the past five years? If yes, what caused you to be homeless?
  • In the past six months, have you ever had to skip a mortgage or rent payment? If so, what are the primary reasons?
  • How easy or difficult would it be to find an affordable rental unit in Meridian on a scale from 0 to 9?
  • Do you currently owe more on your home than it is worth?
  • In the past five years, have you ever been denied housing to rent or buy in Meridian? If so, why?

PREVIOUS SURVEY RESULTS

When 330 residents took Meridian's housing survey in 2011, four impediments to fair housing were identified:

1) Lack of affordable housing

2) Residents' potential opposition to affordable housing developments

3) Limited public transportation options

4) Lack of understanding by developers and landlords about housing accessibility requirements to accommodate residents with disabilities.

Other results from the 2011 survey and analysis showed:

  • 41 percent of the city’s households qualified for HUD assistance because they earned 80 percent or less of the average medium income.
  • 77 percent of respondents said they were satisfied or extremely satisfied with their living situation.
  • 92 percent of respondents said they had not experienced housing discrimination. Those who claimed they had been discriminated against said it was because of poor credit or other financial issues, as well as their familial status.
  • 18 fair housing complaints had been filed in Meridian the past five years. Of those, 61 percent were filed on the basis of disability status.
  • Meridian's homeownership rate fell from 84 percent in 2000 to 77 percent in 2010.
  • Meridian had a poverty rate of 6 percent. The poverty rate was highest among college-aged residents (14 percent) and children (8 percent).
  • Low income households were concentrated in downtown Meridian.
  • Meridian’s median household income was $60,230, higher than both the state of Idaho's ($43,490) and the national average ($50,046).
  • Meridian had grown from 34,919 residents in 2000 to 75,092 residents in 2010. The most growth was seen in the city's senior population. The city's racial composition had changed slightly, with some growth in the Hispanic population.

Source: BBC Research & Consulting presentation to the Meridian City Council, March 2012. Provided by the city of Meridian.

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