A recent research project from the Urban Institute delved into the struggles lurking in Southeast Michigan housing, in “a series of interconnected policy and market challenges within Detroit and across the inner-ring and outer-ring suburbs.” This project, funded by a grant from JPMorgan Chase, resulted in an article which explores the economic and social hurdles faced by the residents of this region after the city’s economy began its sharp decline in the mid-20th century.
Challenges such as vacant properties and declining homeownership are well known on the national level for plaguing Detroit, but issues such as a growing senior population, a decline in African-American homeownership, and a surge in demand for rental housing are also affecting the stability of the housing market and economy further south in the state.
A rapidly aging senior population will result in a surge of housing needs and policy changes that the area is wholly unprepared to face, according to the article, such as “new transportation and housing needs, evolving health care demands, and income sources changing from wages to retirement assets.” Accessibility improvements—like grab-bars and no-step entries—will be difficult for lower- or fixed-income residents, in addition to dwindling resources that are steadily becoming less and less available to local governments to assist in these older home repairs and accessibility renovations.
In addition to this generation shift, a disproportionate effect of the 2008 financial crisis resulted in the homeownership rate in Michigan tumbling from 51 percent in 2000 to 40 percent in 2006, resulting from “an array of economic and social challenges undermining African Americans’ wealth.” Urban Institute researchers state that tax foreclosures and predatory land contracts will only continue to exacerbate the problem at hand.
The third major issue addressed in this article culminates from the pressure of the two previous: a major shift in homeowning versus renting. Though the article states that Southeast Michigan has a 70 percent homeownership rate, “the share of renting households is expected to rise in the coming years.” This has begun to result in a shortage of apartments, which has led to higher rental prices, locking out many lower-income residents from the possibility of affordable housing.
Though these facts seem bleak for the residents of the region, the Urban Institute outlines the many philanthropic and social responses that aim to answer these growing needs, and states that, “these housing challenges may have different root causes, but solving them will require collaborative approaches that involve public, private, nonprofit, and philanthropic stakeholders from across the region to gather and share data along with the results of successful programs.”
To read more about this project and its resulting answers to these challenges, click here.