Research Progress

This week our studio is doing research on our Manhattan/Ogden area project. We have been working in union with Donna Schenck-Hamlin (Program Associate-KSU Center for Engagement and Community Development) and Karmen Davenport to discuss the housing problem in Riley County. We have found the current housing market in Manhattan does not support the needs of the workforce community. The shift in the equilibrium between rental and ownership has caused the quality and quantity of affordable housing to decline. This has forced households to seek better social environments away from the greater Manhattan area, affecting the economy, health, and sense of belonging of the community.  

We are looking at pre-existing research found at Manhattan town hall meetings, workforce demographics, and existing housing characteristics. We are then looking at how we can make housing better to benefit households and the public.  

Through this research we have found that 60.4% of people who work in Manhattan live in the same city. Because of the poor housing quality and the high percentage of 47% of housing being apartments; households seeking quality single-family houses have a tough time finding affordable homes. We have also found that the main employment opportunities in Manhattan include Education Instruction and Library Occupations, Management Occupations, Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations, and Office and Administrative Support Occupations. With most of these occupations earning $50,000 per year or less.  

By implementing affordable workforce housing, we can make a healthier community starting at the small households. Making net positive housing we are able to reduce the environmental footprint as well as alleviate utility costs for families. While making affordable housing is beneficial to households, it also helps the bigger picture of the community. Having workers live and work in the same city strengthens the economy and the community fabric. Non-commuting citizens means increased money towards taxes, fees, and other forms of public revenue that improve schools, roads and infrastructure, and emergency services.  

We are also looking at case studies as far as New Zealand and as close as Hutchinson, Kansas. By looking at these select buildings we can pick successful ideas from each project and implement them into our design. Some designs focus on being net positive with characteristics like solar panels, rainwater collection, and thick insulated exterior walls. Other designs give us ideas about how to make our design low cost. Another building pulls ideas like landscape placement to bring a more personable feeling to our design.  

Our plan is to design housing for the Manhattan and Ogden area that is affordable, size-efficient, and net positive that sustains the single-family workforce demographic. Our design will be outlined by making it as close to 1,000 square feet as possible, having two to three bedrooms, implementing cost reducing sustainable features, using a prefabricated construction system. We are hoping for an all around healthy, energy efficient, and affordable home design.  

-Abigail Steinert

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