To understand what housing options we need in Ottumwa, we first must understand what our current market looks like.

Ottumwa has the potential to continue to see population growth. That growth, however, will be partially reliant on having the right types of housing available for residents. Our population slowly declined over three decades, but since 1990, we have slowly seen that trend reverse, capturing back 1,000 of the estimated 9,000 lost residents.

When you dig further into our population growth, Ottumwa began attracting more young professionals in the early 2000s. However, retaining those young professionals has been a challenge. As new downtown rental units have increased, the loss of young professionals has slowed slightly. RDG Planning and Designs study has suggested that lack of appealing home-ownership options may play a role in the retention of residents in that age range.

Looking forward, if our community continues to grow at the currently projected rate of 0.25%, the historic construction trends that support just 0.14% growth will continue to leave a large gap in housing availability and housing need.

As we consider what types of housing are needed in Ottumwa, it is also key that we understand how residents are currently occupying their residences. In 2019, 59% of homes in Ottumwa were occupied by the homeowner. 30% of local residences were renter-occupied while 11% of residences were vacant.

These numbers are important to understand, as they have a direct impact on our community’s potential for growth. The Ottumwa Housing Plan has highlighted that we need to add 500 residences, a combination of owner-occupied and rental properties, to Ottumwa’s housing market by 2030 for our community to continue to grow.

This post is part of a series based on the 2022 Ottumwa Housing Study.