Cheyenne is on a high plain in the southeastern corner of Wyoming. It is the capital of Wyoming, and had a population of 50,008 at the time of the 1990 census. Warren Air Force Base, to the west of the city, is a major employer. Through employment or other connections, the base directly impacts over 11 percent of the population of Laramie County, which includes Cheyenne.
Industrial employment is limited to a refinery and a chemical plant, although a new industrial park has been built. A number of higher paying jobs in trucking and communications have been lost recently. Continued economic and population growth at a rate of 1 percent is expected.
During the coming year, Cheyenne plans to spend $646,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds and $400,000 in Home Investment Partnership (HOME) funds to meet its housing, rehabilitation, neighborhood maintenance and revitalization, public facilities, and economic development goals.
The Cheyenne Housing and Community Development Office reestablished the Community Development Advisory Council to enhance citizen input for the consolidated plan. In addition, the South Cheyenne Citizens Group was consulted, as were various individuals in the target neighborhoods. The citizen participation plan which was adopted by the city called for two public hearings and required that the plan be available to the public while in draft form.
Median income in Cheyenne in 1995 is $38,300 for a family of four. There are eight neighborhoods with median incomes that are below 80 percent of the city median that have been designated by the city as primary community development neighborhoods. The five neighborhoods where the median income is between 80 percent and the city median are considered to be secondary community development neighborhoods. The primary neighborhoods have median incomes of about two-thirds of the city median.
Almost one-third of the population of Cheyenne lives in such designated neighborhoods, with 18 percent in the primary community development neighborhoods. However, 26 percent of African-Americans in Cheyenne and 36 percent of Hispanics live in the primary development neighborhoods. All of the development neighborhoods have minority populations of over 15 percent. The proportions of various ethnic groups within the city have changed little in the past 15 years.
About two-thirds of the 21,859 housing units in Cheyenne are single-family detached homes. Of the rest, the majority are in buildings with four or fewer units. The housing stock increased only 8.3 percent in the 1980s, with almost no multifamily stock being built. Development continues to be slow.
There were 269 homes built in the urbanized area around Cheyenne from 1991 to 1993, mostly more expensive homes in the northern area. Most new housing is being sold for more than $85,000, but there is a great need for homes selling for less than $70,000. Until recently, when new partnerships took on the task, very few rental units had been constructed.
The mobile home market, which is significant in Cheyenne, is focused on resale of existing units, following financial problems after the sale of new mobile homes. There are few vacant mobile home lots for rent, and no new large facilities are under development.
Only about 2 percent of rental units are vacant. The city's attempt to provide funds from the Federal HOME program to rehabilitate rental housing got little response from owners; only four properties were rehabilitated.
Because of the low incomes in target neighborhoods, there are significant
housing problems. The units requiring rehabilitation are concentrated in these
Rental units are under construction which will provide housing for 170 families, but the need will still be great. The Laramie County Community Action Agency reports that overcrowding is increasing, due to family and economic changes.
Unemployment in Cheyenne has been slowly declining. It is believed to be at 8 to 10 percent in lower-income neighborhoods. Few opportunities are emerging for persons there, who often lack education and skills. Assistance will continue to be necessary if housing conditions are to improve.
Households that earn less than 30 percent of the median income in a community are considered to be extremely low income. Using the rule of thumb that no household should pay more than 30 percent of its income for housing costs, an extremely low-income family in Cheyenne could afford no more than $200 per month in total housing costs. However, a three-bedroom home in Cheyenne typically costs about $650 per month for either rent or purchase. Clearly the extremely low-income families with children who make up 9 percent of Cheyenne's households have severe housing affordability problems.
Altogether, two-thirds of families with children in Cheyenne have low incomes, no higher than 80 percent of median. The maximum housing cost that any of these families can afford, by the above rule, is about $500 per month, well below the market cost of an adequate house.
The Coalition of Agencies Serving the Homeless meets quarterly and coordinates responses by a number of nonprofit agencies and the city. During a week-long survey, 111 people were identified as homeless in Cheyenne; 52 were in family groups, and 59 were adult individuals not in a family. Of these persons, 29 were unsheltered, 47 used the reception and day center, 69 were residing in the emergency shelter, and 13 lived in transitional housing.
The Cheyenne Housing Authority owns and manages 268 units of public housing, and 88 units developed through other Federal programs. In addition, the Authority administers the Section 8 rental assistance program serving 684 households. There are over 750 families on the Cheyenne Housing Authority's waiting list.
About four out of five households assisted, and the same proportion on the waiting list, are female-headed households. The average income of public housing residents is below $450 per month, and only 21 percent report wages as a primary source of income.
The Housing Authority reports that increasingly tenants cannot find units that are of adequate quality and that also rent for the amount that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allows under the Section 8 program. If the method of setting this rent is changed, this problem could become worse, making it much more likely that low- income persons assisted will live only in the already low-income neighborhoods.
The Authority does not plan to demolish or dispose of any assisted units, but has not been able to obtain HUD funding for any new units. The Authority did develop a 19-unit complex for homeownership, using funds from the HOME program.
The nonprofit Wyoming Housing Opportunities Association (WHOA) has also developed about 80 units of assisted housing recently, including one 51-unit townhouse development, using the Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits.
There is a strong resistance to creating larger multifamily housing in Cheyenne. The city will respond to this by promoting townhouse development and encouraging homeownership.
Land costs and infrastructure costs have increased. There is little construction of housing for sale in the $65,000 to $75,000 range, and little construction of rental housing. Interest rates are beginning to impede new housing sales. It was also found that appraisers undervalue homes in the south Cheyenne area, making it difficult to finance homes there.
There is no city ordinance or state law on fair housing. Cheyenne supports efforts to implement Federal fair housing laws, including referring complaints to HUD. The City Attorney has ruled that Cheyenne does not have the legal authority to pass a local fair housing ordinance.
The city developed the Cheyenne Housing Opportunities Program to increase housing opportunities for minorities. This program increased homeownership opportunities for women, people of Hispanic heritage, and persons with disabilities, but was not used in proportionate numbers by the African-American population. A brochure was prepared to increase African American use of the program.
Cheyenne also has acted to decrease the use of the Contract for Deed mechanism for ownership, since it frequently leads to repossession by the original. Because it has often been the practice to sell substandard housing to low-income persons, the city has instituted inspections prior to purchase of any assisted housing.
Multifamily housing, which largely serves persons of color, has been blocked by adjacent neighborhoods, even after city support and planning. Many areas of Cheyenne are zoned to exclude multifamily housing.
Four out of five houses in the target areas were built prior to the phasing out of lead-based paint in 1979. However, based on its rehabilitation experience, the city estimates that only 6 percent of houses in the target areas will actually need removal of lead-based paint due to serious deterioration and a strong likelihood of lead poisoning. Last year, during city housing rehabilitation activities, one child was found to have been exposed to lead contamination.
Seniors comprise about 13 percent of Cheyenne's population. There are 249 units of low- income housing designated for the elderly in Cheyenne, as well as numerous private developments. These are generally full and there is a need for more such housing, especially downtown. A local developer estimated that there is a need for 120 independent living units for elderly and disabled persons.
There also is a need for group homes for the developmentally disabled, and several nonprofits are working with the city to meet this need. Only three persons with AIDS or HIV-positive status are reported in Laramie County.
The Cheyenne Housing and Community Development Office identified needs by neighborhood. These needs generally fell into these categories:
Cheyenne will address the conditions described above in the target neighborhoods, with the intention of improving the housing stock, neighborhood integrity and public facilities in neighborhoods where lower-income people live. The city is initiating job creation through the Section 108 Loan Program to enhance economic and job creation opportunities. The city has been enacting 1% sales tax programs to provide the primary source of funding for public improvements, which also provide ongoing employment for laborers and mechanics in the target areas.
Other neighborhoods chosen as community development areas that were not targeted by the Model Cities and urban renewal programs have been addressed by the Community Development Block Grant Program over the last 20 years. Cheyenne's Land Use and Economic Development plans reinforce the Community Development plan, and help define those activities the city supports.
The Affordable Housing Plan is governed by policies which include consistency with the Housing Plan, one-to-one replacement, non-displacement, provision of relocation assistance, and equal opportunity.
Planned future housing efforts include:
In the area of fair housing, the following steps will be taken:
Cheyenne has also included proposals for combating and preventing homelessness:
The following efforts are planned:
Given the overwhelming nature of the problems of poverty in Cheyenne, and the minimal resources available, the city will provide a sounding board for problems, and improve the well-being of the poor through the entire network of social, employment, and educational agencies in the community.
The Cheyenne Housing and Community Development Office coordinates housing and community development activities. The housing component of this plan will be coordinated through the Affordable Housing Coalition, in which the Cheyenne Housing and Community Development Office participates, along with the Housing Authority, the Wyoming Community Development Authority, the City Planning Office, and five local nonprofit agencies directly involved in housing and homeless programs.
The following projects are specified for CDBG and HOME funding during the 1995 year:
Emergency housing rehabilitation for 35 low or moderate income homeowners.
MAP 1 depicts points of interest in the jurisdiction.
MAP 2 depicts points of interest and low-moderate income areas.
MAP 3 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and minority concentration levels.
MAP 4 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and unemployment levels.
MAP 5 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.
MAP 6 is a map, sectioned by neighborhood, which depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.
MAP 7 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects within one of the four neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.
MAP 8 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded project(s) from a street level vantage point.
Mr. Will Sanchez
Community Development Administrator
2101 O'Neil Avenue, Room 309
Cheyenne, Wyoming 82001