PARKE COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – The cost of building a home has risen dramatically since the start of the pandemic.

According to a study done by Thrive West Central, From March 2020 to April 2022, that cost has risen roughly 35%.

This staggering number presents a big challenge for rural counties.

Partnership Parke County Executive Director Cyndi Todd is one of the officials tasked with creating solutions to work around this. The availability of median cost housing is one of the issues that Parke County faces.

“We feel the pressure from various sides of making sure that we have inventory as we begin to attract the population coming in and to ensure we’re serving the population that we have here as well,” Todd explained.

Todd said that the housing in Parke County is generally older, which is a statement that the Thrive study backs up. Most of the housing was built in the 1960s and 1970s. She points out that this could be a plausible reason for a higher vacancy rate in the county.

“Our vacancies as far as vacant percentage is almost double of what our neighboring communities were,” Todd said.

How to improve inventory and construct newer homes is a question that Todd has some suggested solutions for. She mentioned making the area more attractive to build for contractors.

She explained the possibility of waiving tap fees for construction and having infrastructure already in place to help reduce the initial costs of construction.

Parke County Commissioner Jim Meece said that he’s already got the ball rolling in terms of talking with potential contractors who have interest in building in the area.

“We have contractors who are interested,” Meece said. “Any contractor would like to build houses that they can sell or rent.”

Meece went on to explain some of their successful efforts to improve broadband, roads and many other projects that they have in the county. However, he said that housing is at the center of it all.

“It’s no good to have all those amenities if you don’t have places for people to stay,” Meece stated. “That place to stay is paramount in our efforts to create a better situation.”