High Demand with Limited Supply and Rising Rent Top Issues Facing Residents in Tompkins Co.

Ithaca is most well-known for being a college town, drawing people from all across the country and the world. But in the last few years, the growing population of Tompkins County has resulted in a housing shortage. As Philip O'Driscoll explains, leaders are now working with the community to better address the challenge.

ITHACA, N.Y. -- At first, it might seem like a good problem to have, but with more and more people coming to Tompkins County, there's now a shortage of suitable living options.

To find solutions, local leaders hosted a multi-day housing summit in Ithaca. Some say this has actually been a concern for over a decade.  

"We're a jobs magnet compared to surrounding counties. A lot of people enjoy the quality of life here so there's a lot of demand for housing. I think over the years we've seen just not enough supply," said Martha Robertson a county legislator who chairs the Planning, Development & Economic Quality Committee.

And those who have faced or are currently facing challenges to finding adequate housing shared their stories.

National real estate experts say this adds greater context to the local issues.

"Real life stories which actually kind of unmask this idea that there's affordable housing issues. And by seeing residents and neighbors and workers that people understand and see. It actually gives people the understanding that this is not just some us versus them," said Christopher Coes, the vice president of Real Estate Policy and External Affairs Smart Growth America.

They also weighed in, stating that it's important to explore development in some of the more populated villages, and connecting them to the city center.

"Everyone can't live in Ithaca. There's only so much land here. There's only so much you can do in a short amount of time. But you have a ton of villages that have great walkable character that we should be emphasizing and building up. But the key thing is those villages have to be connected," Coes said.

Experts say a boosting of transportation would mean less money would need to be spent on housing and commuting.

But moving forward all agree that serious choices need to be made in order to address a complex situation. 

National experts say that Tompkins County's current housing issues are comparable to those of other counties with a similar population.

Spectrum customers get full access
to all our video, including our live stream.