Cost burden for renters in parts of Central Nebraska is more prevalent, new study finds.

Jan. 29, 2024, 4 p.m. ·

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(Photo by Julián Gentilezza on Unsplash)

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The lack of new and available housing is hurting the rental market for mid-sized cities in Nebraska.

Renters living in parts of Central Nebraska are more likely to be burdened with housing costs compared to those in other parts of the state, according to a recent study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.

About 49.3 percent of renting households in and around Kearney and Hastings experience cost burden.

Housing cost burden is defined as any household spending more than 30 percent of their income toward rent and utilities.

Tenants in the greater Omaha (47.5%), Lexington (44.6%), North Platte (44.6%) and Lincoln (44.1%) areas are the next most likely to be constrained by rent and utilities.

Josie Schafer with the Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Nebraska Omaha said this study aligns with her own research.

She said people in Kearney and Hastings have lower paying jobs on average than other major cities.

“But there’s really short supply of housing. We’re not building housing at a really high level. A lot of Nebraskans stay in their homes for a very long time, so there’s not a lot of turnover,” Schafer said.

Schafer said Nebraska hasn’t built many homes since the Great Recession began in 2007.

On the other end of the spectrum, Fremont has the healthiest rental market in the state with just 26.9 percent of renters living in unaffordable units.

Other communities included in the study were Grand Island (39.1%), Scottsbluff (36.4%), Columbus (35%), Norfolk (35%), South Sioux City (34.1%) and Beatrice (31.1%).