Lebanon County Housing Needs Assessment Reveals Limited Housing Availability Highlighting Need for Future Housing Development

Lebanon County Housing Needs Assessment Reveals Limited Housing Availability Highlighting Need for Future Housing Development


(Lebanon, PA) Sept 1, 2023 – A Housing Needs Assessment (HNA) of Lebanon County was completed to evaluate current housing conditions and forecast future housing needs within the county. The study included a comprehensive analysis of area demographics, economics, and housing inventory, and concluded with housing gap estimates (number of units needed) and recommendations for addressing local housing issues. Information contained within the study, conducted by Bowen National Research, is intended to assist local stakeholders in identifying housing challenges and opportunities and to appropriately plan future housing development.

A public information session to be led by Patrick Bowen of Bowen National Research will be held September 21, 1:00 pm at the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce (989 Quentin Road, Ste 1 Lebanon, PA 17042).  The information session is free, but registration is required.  You can register for the event on Eventbrite at https://LebCoHNA.eventbrite.com.

The study, commissioned by the County of Lebanon and the City of Lebanon and managed by the Community Health Council’s Coalition to End Homelessness, is the first of its kind in over a decade. “We are excited to be part of this collaboration between private, public, and governmental organizations,” said Bryan Smith, Co-Chair of the Coalition to End Homelessness. “The housing crisis is real both in Lebanon County and across the country. We care about Lebanon County and hope this data will inspire other thought leaders to be solutions focused.  This report is just the beginning of partnerships created to solve the housing issues in the Lebanon community,” continued Smith.

The HNA evaluates historic demographic trends from 2010 to 2022 and five-year projections to 2027. Notable trends include:

  • Overall household growth rate within the county outpaced the state of Pennsylvania since 2010 adding to the demand for housing in the foreseeable future.
  • Senior households (65+) are expected to experience the most significant growth over the next several years.
  • Although moderate and higher-income households will drive overall demand for housing, the large base of low-income renters and the general limited availability of housing product will contribute to the ongoing need for affordable housing alternatives. 

In addition to demographic information, an analysis of the county’s current housing stock is provided within the study to better understand current housing conditions and needs within the county. The following summarizes key findings from this section of the analysis:

  • More than 2,000 occupied housing units in the county are considered substandard, while over 14,500 households are housing cost-burdened (or paying more than 30% of their income toward rent or mortgage).
  • Multifamily apartment properties and non-conventional rental housing are both operating at exceedingly high occupancy levels (99.6%) with very limited availability rates (0.6%).
  • Lebanon County’s listed homes inventory is extremely low and indicates limited available supply. The county has a vacancy/availability rate of 0.3%, which is well below the normal range for a well-balanced market.    
  • The median price of homes sold within Lebanon County increased by 26.3%, or $50,000, between 2020 and 2022.
  • The notable portion of available housing inventory priced at $300,000 and above creates challenges for lower-income households seeking home ownership. 

With consideration given to the preceding metrics, among others contained within the HNA, housing gap estimates were calculated to determine future housing needs within the county. These housing gap estimates are reflective of housing needs within the county between 2022 and 2027 and are summarized as follows:

  • Continuing to promote/encourage housing development among all affordability levels will contribute to a healthy overall housing market.
  • Lebanon County has an overall need of 2,620 rental units during the five-year projection period. While this need is greatest for rental units priced $1,065/month or below, there is also an ongoing need for rental product of various other price points.
  • Almost 4,000 for-sale units are needed within the county during the projection period of 2022 to 2027, with the greatest need being for product priced $340,801 and higher. A notable need is also anticipated for product priced between $142,001 and $340,800.
  • Over 15,000 people in Lebanon County live in poverty, including nearly one in six children, indicating that affordable family housing for households earning below $68,000 should be a housing priority for the area. 

Over 300 leaders, employers, and residents were surveyed as part of the study.  Approximately 40.0% of surveyed area employers indicated that local housing issues were contributing to businesses’ ability to attract workers and one-third (31.9%) of employers said they were likely to hire more employees if local housing issues were resolved.

The study provided several recommendations for the county to consider:

  • Develop community-specific and county-level housing plans.
  • Consider capacity building that will expand the base of participants and resources that can be utilized to address housing issues. 
  • Market Lebanon County’s housing needs and opportunities to potential residential development partners and develop a centralized housing resource center. 
  • Formulate education and outreach campaign to help support housing initiatives.
  • Consider implementing/modifying policies to encourage or support the development of new residential units and the renovation of existing substandard housing. 
  • Support efforts to develop residential units along or near public transportation corridors and/or within walkable communities to accommodate the housing needs of seniors and workforce households, and to appeal to younger households. 

“Healthy, affordable housing promotes good physical and mental health,” said Nicole Gray, Executive Director of the Community Health Council.  “Lebanon will need every township and stakeholder in the County to evaluate local policies and explore how we might all be able to support the housing needs identified in the study. Ensuring that stable and desirable housing is available, will also help address critical quality of life and health outcomes in our County.”

For a full copy of the study with a complete list of recommendations and data set please visit our website at: https://communityhealthcouncil.com/data/housing-needs-assessment/

About the Community Health Council of Lebanon County

The Community Health Council of Lebanon County was established in 1994, bringing together stakeholders from across the community to discuss common health goals and collaborative opportunities. The Community Health Council works together to develop and mobilize resources to enhance the health of Lebanon County. For additional information, http://www.communityhealthcouncil.com

About Bowen National Research
Bowen National Research conducts real estate market analysis on a variety of housing and commercial development alternatives throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam. Ranging from site-specific market feasibility studies to community-wide needs assessments, they are experienced in working in both rural and urban markets. For additional information, https://bowennational.com/


Nicole Maurer Gray

Executive Director, Community Health Council of Lebanon County ngray3@wellspan.org

Bryan Smith

Co-Chair, Coalition to End Homelessness


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