It has shopping, it has jobs, but the city of Warsaw needs housing.

At the Redevelopment Commission meeting Monday, City Planner Jeremy Skinner told the board about how the city is going to approach that issue.

“So (there’s been) a lot of conversation the last two years on Residential (Tax Increment Finance) Districts. We are embarking on creating two Residential TIF Districts, starting in November. We have four public hearings scheduled in October,” he said.

Those meetings will be at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 16 and 30 at Eisenhower Elementary School; and at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 17 and 28 at Harrison Elementary.

“The point of these public hearings is to engage residents, neighborhood associations, assessors, school administrators on the creation of these two Residential TIF Districts,” Skinner said. “So we’re proposing two different districts – one on the north side, one on the south side, targeting those residential growth areas we’d like to see.”

He said the north side already has been actively growing, but the city would like to see the south side be a bit more active.

“One of the targeted areas is targeting Eisenhower to continue to bolster their growth with children. I know the Harrison one is very active already, but it’s also one of the primary areas we have available for ground so we wanted to make sure we targeted that area as well,” Skinner said.

The Residential TIFs would give the city a new set of tools that can potentially be used for development of market-rate workforce housing, he said, noting it’s not affordable housing.

“We’re trying to target residential development – single-family primarily – in these two districts. I’m not saying that there wouldn’t be any multi-family, but primarily our target would be single-family housing to meet that market-rate workforce development for the Zimmer Biomets, the DePuys, Medtronics – all of those industries we have here. As they continue to need employees, we’re trying to create that housing for those employees that is affordable for them,” Skinner explained.

He said maps outlining the Residential TIF Districts will be posted on the city’s website. In November, the process to create the two districts will begin.

“You’re only capturing new residential, so that’s primarily what you’re capturing – just those homes. That will allow us to use money within those districts to create infrastructure to continue building workforce housing,” Skinner said.

Commission President Tim Meyer asked if they’d be expansions of existing TIF Districts. Skinner said they would not, they’ll be new districts and residential only with a 20-year life span.

Meyer asked if there would be a set cost range for the houses. Skinner estimated they’d be beginner houses in the $150,000 to $250,000 range. “But right now, I would say the bulk of beginning housing is somewhere in the $180-$220,000 range. So that probably would be what we’re targeting,” Skinner said.

“But, at the same time we’re doing all of this, we’ve partnered with the county and the (Kosciusko County) Community Foundation to do a housing study. We’re hoping that housing study will give us a lot of information that will help us as we embark on these Residential TIFs to target those areas that we’re not hitting,” he continued.

Jeff Grose, city councilman and Redevelopment Commission member, asked if creating the districts might encourage private and public housing investment. Skinner said “mostly private” as they’re trying to entice private developers, with some public input.

“So, we want the community’s input, and at the same time this would give us potentially the same thing we do with economic development. It is, to a certain extent, tied in to economic development because you can create all the jobs you want, but if you don’t have the housing, you don’t have the shopping, you don’t get the people that want to come and live, right? And that’s the problem we’re struggling with: We have shopping – I’m sure there’s people who want more, but we’ll continue to work on that; we have jobs, but we don’t have houses. That’s kind of what we’ve heard the last three or four years – we don’t have houses,” Skinner said.

With the Residential TIF Districts, he said the state has provided a new tool for all communities across the state, and a lot of it came out of the housing bust back in 2008.

Skinner said he went back and looked at statistics. Prior to the housing issue in 2007-08, in the city an average of 60 new houses were being built a year. After 2008, it dropped down to 30.

“And compound that over a 10-year period, those were all houses that didn’t get built over those 10 years. And we haven’t seen that come back until probably the last year, year and a half,” he said.

The city has to have the Residential TIFs completed by year’s end to qualify. “So I’m trying to get these two districts established by the end of the year so we can compete with everybody else and have the same set of tools as everybody else,” Skinner said.

If it works, all the end results will be positive, he said, from the creation of homes that pay taxes to kids being in homes to more kids in local schools. If nothing works, Skinner said it won’t have any impact on anyone.

“The end goal is to create housing for our industries,” he said.