Competition for housing sometimes drives up the prices on available houses beyond what local wages can easily support. "It’s a pretty simple equation," Lance George, director of research for Washington, D.C.-based Housing Assistance Council, which works on affordable housing in rural communities, told Raice. "The incomes in this country have not really matched housing prices so you continue to have this disconnect."
Some towns and states are getting creative in solving the problem. Nebraska recently gave rural communities $7 million to build affordable housing to attract more workers. And Newton, Iowa, took out $3.7 million in bonds to fix up dilapidated homes and encourage local development, Raice reports. Since Newton began the initiative in 2014, new housing has increased dramatically: 50 new housing permits have been issued since 2014, up from only eight from 2011 through 2013.