LAKE PLACID - Officials are busy narrowing down the list of possible consultants to perform a grant-funded housing study for the Tri-Lakes.
Lake Placid Village Trustee Jason Leon said the study is being funded by a $25,000 grant from the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal.
The grant requires a 40 percent local match. The villages of Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake as well as the town of Harrietstown all chipped in to fulfill the matching requirement. Saranac Lake Community Development Director Jeremy Evans wrote the grant application and sits on the housing study committee with Leon.
Joining the two on the committee are Emily Kilbourne from the Housing Assistance Program of Essex County and Mike Conway from the Adirondack Economic Development Committee.
Leon noted that each community in the Tri-Lakes has its own specific set of needs, but affordable housing may be one of the most prevalent problems that each municipality shares.
"The benefit of the study is that it has several municipalities in it," he said. "It's not a village of Lake Placid focus, or a village of Saranac Lake focus. It's looking at the Tri-Lakes area. How can we as a regional community, a Tri-Lakes community, come to some sort of solution that would alleviate some of our problems?"
The study aims to establish baseline data on the kinds of housing available in the Tri-Lakes. Leon said the study will also reveal the level of need for affordable housing among residents. Information about the area's demographics will also be included.
Leon said one of the main goals is to explore village and town-owned land and determine where development of affordable housing is feasible.
"Once the study is finished we don't want to just file it away," Leon said. "It needs to be implemented and we need to tackle affordable housing aggressively."
Lake Placid Village Mayor Craig Randall agreed.
"The livelihood of this region can't just depend on tourism," he said. "We need to find a feasible way for our residents to stay here and thrive here."
And that's what Leon hopes the study will address. He said the cost of housing is no longer crippling just for lower-income workers.
"You're starting to see young professionals and doctors leave the area because they can't afford to stay here," he said.
"It's just one part of the problem," Leon said. "But how can we find affordable housing for the full-time residents here, providing opportunities not just for the people who enjoy the Adirondacks to come live here, but providing opportunities for individuals who went away to school and came back, or people who already live here and are blue collar or middle class and have an opportunity to live here too."
"We're trying to provide an opportunity for multi-generational natives to actually stay here before an ultimate displacement occurs," he added.
There's no word yet if the committee has selected a consulting firm to perform the study.