Housing shortage in Elkhart poses problem for RV businesses getting new employees

NOW: Housing shortage in Elkhart poses problem for RV businesses getting new employees


It seems simple: a thriving RV industry means people can easily find jobs and work. But in Elkhart, the problem is most people are working.

"Everybody is kind of struggling for workers. You'll find a job in Elkhart if you need one," says Kyle Hannon, the President of the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce. 

The unemployment rate is less than 4%, which is better than the national average.  The area is considered to be in full employment. 

Many leaders, like Hannon, are still trying to get people to move into Elkhart for work.

"We're looking at areas with a higher unemployment rate," he explains. "[We're] trying to figure out ways to reach out and say 'hey, come to our area, we've got jobs."

But it's not so easy,.

"The big question is, let's say we attract workers here. Where are we going to put them?" asks Hannon.

It's a question on the minds of many: where will people live?

Pam Shultz is a broker at Century 21 Affiliated in Elkhart. She says the housing inventory is even smaller than it was a year ago.

"You have more time to pick out a dress at a store then you do to buy a house, because it has to happen quickly," she explains. "It's really difficult if you're a buyer right now."

Homes typically only stay on the market for around five days. And the only solution that Shultz sees, is building new ones.

"We need to put more housing into the inventory flow. Short of shooting people out of their houses, that means we need to have more construction," says Shultz. "That's the plan for downtown, but it's not off the ground yet. 

It's a problem that Hannon says he's thankful to have to worry about.

"It's a great problem to have.  Our community has to remember that we're blessed, because it was not too long ago when the other problem existed. And that was no fun at all," says Hannon. 

There has not been an official campaign to start getting people from other areas into Elkhart.  

ABC57 News reached out to the Elkhart Economic Development Corporation, and they said they are still in their preliminary stages. 

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