On Thursday, ABC-7 showed you some of the new on-post housing Fort Bliss is providing to incoming soldiers and their families. But many others will live off-post. ABC-7 found out if the city is ready for that growth.
“It might be tight a little bit, but like I said, we’ve got apartments coming online at the exact same time that troops are getting here.” Matthew McElroy, director of the city’s Development Services Planning division, tells me the Sun City is ready to take on the housing demand.
He says the city already has about 4,000 to 5,000 homes on the market. Then there are projects like the Magoffin Villas downtown, which will break ground in May on 92 apartments and a 105 unit complex going up off of Charl Ann in the upper valley.
McElroy says the average occupancy for apartments in El Paso is at about 95%. If the occupancy increases, there’s a chance rent around the city could also go up. “If your occupancy levels are too high, people can, people are incentivized to continue to raise the rents to the point that they’re able to keep their occupancy high and still pull the higher rent,” he explains.
High occupancy could be attributed to the sluggish economy. Right now people are more prone to rent than own.
McElroy says the average rent in El Paso is about $650. The basic housing allowance for soldiers starts at about $920. He says that’s enough for soldiers to shop around for a place they like enough to call home. “Fort Bliss has been a part of the El Paso family for as long as I can remember. As these families begin to move into my neighborhood, they begin to move into your neighborhood, they’re better integrated in the community and I think that they get better support that way, being fully immersed in living in El Paso neighborhoods.”
McElroy also told me the growth at Fort Bliss is at least double the growth that El Paso is used to in any particular year.