Updated: Jul 6
Housing is inextricably linked to the health and wellness of a community’s residents and to the vitality of the community’s economy.
With this in mind and at the urging of Mayor Tom Dermody, the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte (HFL) recently spearheaded an effort to create a blueprint for the strategic realignment of housing efforts within the City of La Porte. The HFL Board of Directors unanimously voted to support funding for a Comprehensive Housing Study and Needs Analysis for the City of La Porte. Partnering with the City, and in collaboration with HFL strategic partner Northern Trust, the new HFL Housing Initiative embarked on a path to support the development of a La Porte city-specific housing strategy to address the community’s current and future housing needs. The HFL Housing Initiative Committee is chaired by HFL Board member Michele Magnuson.
“Because housing is one of the best researched social determinants of health and well-being, the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte (HFL) is compelled to support this endeavor,” shared Maria Fruth, President & CEO of HFL. “When housing availability and lack of appropriate rental units fall short where people live, work, and play, the quality of life for all residents in our communities is diminished.”
SB Friedman Development Advisors, LLC (SB Friedman) based in Chicago conducted the housing needs analysis and formulated the housing strategy for the city. The firm provides an array of analytical, strategic, and financial services for communities preparing for scaled modernization and development. HFL covered the cost of the study with additional financial support provided by Horizon Bank.
Housing Initiative Chair Michele Magnuson stated, “The City of La Porte-- like many other communities throughout the country-- is facing housing-related challenges, including a reduced supply of units in both the for-sale and the rental housing markets. Limited production of new housing in recent years, an aging housing stock, and a limited supply of workforce and rent-restricted housing and housing for people with special housing needs are all critical factors in the housing issues La Porteans face. Understanding the need and discovering solutions to address these issues are crucial steps to make our community healthier.”
The study, which commenced in summer 2022 and took about six months to complete, began with a review of La Porte’s housing policies and recent activities to fully understand the scope of the City’s existing efforts in this area. Additionally, community stakeholders participated in focus groups and one-on-one interviews conducted by SB Friedman. The next phase of the study included an in-depth analysis of housing conditions throughout the City with particular focus on the neighborhoods bordering the City’s downtown area. Based on those discussions and findings, SB Friedman’s report outlines the City’s housing opportunities and challenges and provides full detail regarding La Porte’s housing needs, both in the ownership and rental housing markets. Recommendations for addressing the housing market challenges are presented at the study's conclusion.
Housing Study Findings
On Monday, February 6, 2023, the results of the study were presented to La Porte City Council by Mayor Dermody, Maria Fruth, HFL President & CEO, and SB Friedman consultants, Lance Dorne (SB Friedman Partner) and Samantha Moskol (Associate Project Manager).
As outlined in the presentation, the strategy elements include increasing the supply of all housing (owned and rental), focusing on rental affordability, increasing home ownership, diversifying La Porte’s housing supply, and addressing the need for programs and initiatives to enable housing preservation for distressed and deteriorating housing.
Based on the study findings, SB Friedman strategists propose adding 900+ for-sale housing units and 750+ rental housing units over the next few years. The housing strategy also proposes the creation of a broader developer base including firms who specialize in active senior housing and workforce and rent-restricted housing for people with special housing needs.
What’s Next for the HFL City of La Porte Housing Initiative
HFL and the City of La Porte will continue discussion on how to address the implementation actions suggested by the study. The comprehensive housing study and needs analysis conducted by SB Friedman provides a broad framework for crafting an action plan to effectively address the community’s housing needs, but determining the stewards of the housing strategy is an important next step. According to Mayor Dermody, “The City now has a more complete and better understanding of La Porte’s housing challenges and opportunities. We look forward to continuing collaboration and engagement with HFL and others in the private and nonprofit sectors as key partners in addressing La Porte’s housing issues. The next step is creating a solid plan to address the housing needs of current and future residents.” To read the full HFL - City of La Porte Housing Initiative study, please visit https://www.hflaporte.org/post/healthcare-foundation-of-la-porte-city-of-la-porte-housing-initiative-study-results.
HFL’s mission is empowering La Porte County residents to live healthy and well. Since 2017, HFL has invested over $36 million in the La Porte County community. To learn more about HFL and community impact, please visit the Foundation’s website at hflaporte.org.