1. Introduction

a. Overview

Housing characteristics and demands in Kalamazoo are as diverse as the City's population. Far from being a one-dimensional, homogeneous community, the City's housing stock fills a huge variety of niches ranging from affordable single family owner-occupied homes, to student apartment complexes; from upscale planned-unit developments, to mobile home parks and group housing quarters.

 This section provides an overview of significant housing characteristics in Kalamazoo based on analysis of demographic data, existing records provided by the City, previous housing studies, and a citywide windshield survey of exterior housing conditions. This information enables the development of a "snapshot" in time of the status of housing in the community, and allows identification of key issues and trends to be incorporated into the comprehensive planning process.

b. Methodology

In order to analyze housing on a city wide basis at a sufficient level of detail, it was necessary to define geographic subgroups for which data was available and surveys could be conducted. It was determined that the Census Tract was the most useful land area, because most demographic information is available by Census Tract and because many Tracts roughly correlate with one or more of the city established neighborhood boundaries. Accordingly, Census data, building permit and demolition permit data were analyzed at this level. Windshield surveys were also conducted at the Census Tract level. Statistical information was summarized in a tabular form, and housing conditions recorded and mapped prior to analysis. This methodology allowed a more complete understanding of community housing characteristics and trends.

2. Demographic Analysis

Relevant demographic housing information by Census Tract has been extracted from the 1990 Census files and supplemented by City of Kalamazoo building records of new and demolished residential structures (Table V-1). It is important to note that the census does not provide complete information for some small portions of the City which are included in tracts which lie primarily in other jurisdictions. Because such information is unavailable, these tracts are not included in Table V-1. Also, with regard to units added since 1990, these numbers represent the net number of units added or lost between 1990 and 1996; and are not included in the remainder of the demographic data.

 TABLE V-1City of Kalamazoo - Comprehensive PlanHousing Data by Census Tract*


The following housing characteristics have been identified as significant in identifying existing community trends at the Census Tract level:

1) Occupancy Status: The number of housing units that are owner occupied, renter occupied, vacant,   or boarded up.

2) Housing Age: The number of housing units that were constructed in each of the following time periods. Categories: Pre 1940, 1940-1949, 1950-1959, 1960-1979, 1980-1990.

3) Number of Units in Structure: The number of housing units that are present in residential structures.               The categories are identified as: 1, 2-4, 5-9, 16-19, 20+, mobile home, other.

4) Median Value/Median Gross Rent: The median value of owner-occupied housing in the tract, or the median rent paid by tenants.

5) Median Persons Per Occupied Unit: The number of people typically living in a housing unit.

6) Lacks Complete Plumbing: The number of housing units that do not contain the minimum amount of plumbing facilities required by code.

 7) Average Number of Rooms Per Unit: The number of rooms typically found in each housing unit.

8) Persons Per Household: The number of people, on average, who reside in a household.

 Each of these categories is useful to examine independently and in comparison with other Census Tracts.

a.Occupancy Status

According to the 1990 Census, approximately 6.6% of the City's housing stock was vacant including boarded-up housing. Of the remaining 93.4% of the housing stock, approximately 52.6% is renter occupied and 47.4% owner-occupied. This is a significantly high percentage of rental stock for the community compared to Kalamazoo County which is only 35.6% renter occupied and to other Michigan communities (Table II-11) except Ann Arbor. Census Tracts with a ratio of rental to owner housing exceeding the City average are: 2.01, 4.02, 5, 6, 8.01, 8.02, 15.04, 15.06, and 15.07. These Tracts are primarily grouped around Western Michigan University and the downtown, and the Tracts directly south. Areas with the highest ownership rates are found in Tracts 11, 12, 14.01, 16.03 and 18.01 which are the Arcadia, Milwood, S. Westnedge and Oakwood neighborhoods. The highest vacancy rates can be found in Tracts 3, 5, and 6, and the most boarded up houses in Tracts 3 and 15.07.

b.Housing Age

Due to the age of the community, a wide range of housing ages can be anticipated, which has an important impact on housing quality, particularly for older homes. The Census identifies the following Tracts as possessing the greatest proportion of units more than 50 years old: 1, 2.01, 2.02, 3, 4.02, 5, 6, 8.01, 8.02, 9, 10, and 11. These Tracts illustrate the historic development of the community, extending out from the downtown to the north and directly east and south. The Tracts with the newest housing stock are Tracts 15.06, 15.07, 16.01, 16.04 and 17.01, representing the university area and the neighborhoods in the southwest portion of the City, except tract 16.03.

c.Number of Units in Structure

This category helps to identify which Tracts possess the greatest number of multiple family units or mobile homes which may be an indicator of high densities and /or rental units. The Tracts with the highest proportion of structures with 5 to 20+ unit buildings are 8.02, 15.04, 15.06, 15.07 and 18.02, centered near the downtown and the university or the southeast corner of the City. Only three Tracts possess a significant number of mobile homes, specifically 15.07 with 491 mobile homes, 18.01 with 90 mobile homes and 18.02 with 229 mobile homes.

d.Median Value/Median Rent

This category emphasizes dramatically the contrast between the various housing niches in the City of Kalamazoo. In 1990, the median housing value in the City was $47,600. However, the range from highest to lowest value by Tract was $97,500 to $17,900. Of the twenty-two Census Tracts with reported data in Table V-1, thirteen had median values below the City-wide median. The Tracts with the lowest median values were 1, 2.02, 3, 8.01, and 9, generally located around the downtown, and in the Northside, Eastside and Edison neighborhoods. The Tracts with the highest values (12, 16.01, 16.04) were located in the southwest quadrant of the City.

With regard to median gross rent, the City-wide median in 1990 was $403, with twelve of the twenty-four tracts (with reported data) demonstrating rents lower than the median. The range of median contract rents was from $303 to $563 per month, with the lowest rates found in Tracts 3, 4.02, 5, 8.03 , and 15.04, all downtown, northside or university Tracts. The highest rents were found in tracts 15.06, 16.04, 17.02 and near the university and in the City's southwest quadrant.

e. Median Persons Per Unit

This category can help provide an understanding of conditions leading to overcrowding. The Tracts with the highest number of persons per unit are 2.02, 3, 9, and 11. The areas include the Northside, Edison and Vine neighborhoods surrounding downtown. However, the City-wide range of 1.5 to 2.57 persons per unit is within acceptable levels.

f.Lacks Complete Plumbing

This category is identified by the U.S. Census as an indicator of substandard housing conditions. Fortunately, very few units in the City have been included in this category. The Tracts with the highest number of units lacking complete plumbing are tract 3 (10 units), tract 5 (14 units), tract 14.01 (10 units), tract 10 (9 units), tract 9 (8 units) and tract 11 (8 units).

g.AverageNumber of Rooms Per Unit

This category provides insight as to the general size of units by Tract. The range of rooms per units on a City-wide basis is from 3 to 6.7. The Tracts with the fewest rooms/unit are 2.01, 4.02, 8.01, 8.02, and 15.04; these Tracts had fewer than four rooms per unit. The units with the highest number of rooms per unit are in Tracts 11, 12, 16.01 and 29.03.

h.Persons Per Household

This category is a useful indicator of household size and housing needs. The category ranges from 1.35 to 2.94 persons per household, with the largest households found in Tracts 2.02, 3, 9 and 11. The smallest average households are found in Tracts 2.01, 8.02 and 16.04.


Housing Condition Survey

a. Definition

Over a one month period, a "windshield" or visual survey was conducted of all residential parcels in the City of Kalamazoo in order to identify housing quality issues.

The survey included a visual inspection of the housing stock throughout the entire City and an evaluation and categorization of each unit. The mapped results are not parcel specific, but are intended to give an overview of a City block area (Figure V-1). The visual survey included the exterior of each home which is generally an indicator of overall housing conditions.

The rating criteria for housing conditions is as follows:


 1 Standard Roof, walls, foundation and other exterior

features appear structurally sound. No

repairs needed.

 2 Substandard Roof, walls, foundation and other exterior

features appear structurally sound; however,

 moderate repair/rehabilitation is required.

Value of house worthy of rehabilitation.

Estimated cost of repairs <$15,000.

 3 Substandard Walls and foundation appear structurally

sound. Other major rehabilitation work is

required. Value of house worthy of rehabilitation.

Estimated cost of repairs >$15,000.

 4 Deteriorated Roof, walls and foundation appear not

structurally sound and/or other major deterioration

is present. Value of house not worthy of

rehabilitation, or structure is a condemned house.

The results of the survey were analyzed and mapped to determine existing concentrations of substandard and deteriorated housing. This information was then assembled onto Figure V-1 based on the following two categories.

Color CodeCriteria

 Orange Minor to moderate rehabilitation (category "2-substandard") required. Estimated average cost of rehabilitation up to $15,000.

 Red Major rehabilitation to demolition required (category 3 and 4).

Estimated average cost of rehabilitation $15,000 or more,

or structure is beyond rehabilitation.

In order to merit a map designation, the City blocks displayed on the map had to have at least three houses in need of rehabilitation and/or demolition. It should be noted that although a block is indicated, it does not mean that all the housing on this block is in need of repair.

 However, the impact of three or more units in a single block possessing significant housing problems can create a hazardous blighting influence on the other units in proximity to it. Accordingly, blocks or block faces are designated within the survey results instead of individual units. If the block consists of three or more houses with labels of "2" or "3", then the block was designated as requiring minor to moderate rehabilitation. Minor to moderate rehabilitation is defined as rehabilitation funds needed per house of up to $15,000. If the City block consisted of any combination containing houses designated as "4", the block was designated as in need of major rehabilitation funds. If housing stock has deteriorated beyond the point of cost effective rehabilitation or been cited as condemned, no cost was estimated.

 FIGURE V-1Substandard and Deteriorating Housing


 Housing Conditions Survey Results

While much of the community possesses attractive, well-maintained residential units, serious housing quality issues were discovered in a number of areas. Of the approximately 32,000 units surveyed, it is estimated that 985 units are in need of rehabilitation. Of these, 864 housing units were rated as Category 2, possessing moderate rehabilitation needs; 76 units as Category 3, possessing substantial rehabilitation needs; and 45 units as Category 4, either condemned or beyond cost-effective rehabilitation. The geographic groupings of these units are described below.

Four Census Tracts were observed to possess significant levels of housing quality concerns. The tracts are as follows:

 Tract 3 (in the Northside neighborhood): 18 blocks/areas identified as possessing units in need of substantial rehabilitation or removal, 26 blocks/areas possessing multiple units in need of moderate rehabilitation.

Tract 10 (in the Edison neighborhood): 2 blocks/areas identified as possessing units in need of substantial rehabilitation or removal, and 23 blocks/areas in need of moderate rehabilitation.

 Tract 5 (in the West Douglas neighborhood): 2 blocks/areas possessing units in need of substantial rehabilitation or removal, 8 blocks/ areas requiring moderate rehabilitation.

Tract 9 (in the Edison neighborhood): 9 blocks/areas possessing units requiring moderate rehabilitation.

Other Tracts with areas of substandard housing include:

Tract 2.02 (in the Northside neighborhood): 2 blocks/areas requiring substantial rehabilitation/removal, 7 blocks/areas requiring moderate rehabilitation.

 Tract 1 (in the Eastside neighborhood): 6 blocks/areas requiring moderate rehabilitation.

Tract 4.02 (in the CBD): 1 block/area requiring substantial rehabilitation/removal.

Tract 6 (in the Vine neighborhood: 1 block/area requiring substantial rehabilitation/removal.

Tract 8.01 (in the Vine and Edison neighborhoods): 1 block/area with units requiring substantial rehabilitation or removal, 2 blocks/areas requiring moderate rehabilitation.

Tract 18.01 (in the Millwood neighborhood): 3 blocks/areas possessing units requiring substantial rehabilitation or removal, 4 blocks/areas requiring moderate rehabilitation.

Tract 16.3 (in the Oakwood neighborhood): 6 blocks/areas requiring moderate rehabilitation.

Tracts with no significant observable rehabilitation needs: 8.02, 14.01, 11, 12, 15.04, 15.06, 15.07, 16.01, 16.04, 17.01, 17.02, 18.02.

Observation of Figure V-1 clearly indicates that many of the City's most critical housing quality problems are concentrated in the northcentral and eastcentral portions of the City (tracts 2.02, 3, 5, 9, and 10). According to the analysis of Census data, these areas also contain a significantly high proportion of housing built prior to 1940, with generally lower median rents and median housing values than the City average. Home ownership levels vary from Tract to Tract and it is impossible to characterize the presence of rental units as a negative impact because many high quality rental units and large scale rental complexes exist on a city-wide basis.

Some other isolated areas with housing quality issues also exist in the Oakwood area (Tract 16.03), south of downtown (Tract 8.01) and southeast (Tract 18.01). While some of these areas are primarily experiencing age or construction quality-related problems, others have been influenced by proximity to nonresidential uses and major streets which have had a negative impact on housing maintenance and value.

4. Housing Trends/Issues

The City of Kalamazoo possesses a mature housing network, serving a variety of consumers, in a wide range of settings. The housing market is primarily divided between the approximately 60% rental community and 40% home owner sector. Within each of these groups, issues pertaining to housing quality, affordability and availability exist.

a. Rental Housing

At present, the single biggest contributor to new housing in the City is the rental housing development sector, aimed primarily at students, young middle to upper income individuals and seniors. This housing is of good quality, with midrange and higher rents and typically located on the west/northwest side of the City. In fact, student housing demand drives a large portion of the City's rental market, particularly for those units in proximity to Western Michigan University, such as the Vine neighborhood and Arcadia neighborhoods. Since landlords are able to command higher rents from student tenants, maintenance is generally attended to more frequently for these units. Rentals may be in the form of larger multiple unit complexes, or existing or new single-family residences marketed primarily to student tenants.

The other major components of the rental market are individuals and households seeking housing, which is affordable at an income level at 80% or less of the County median. The City of Kalamazoo houses a disproportionate number of low and moderate income households in Kalamazoo County. In 1989, there were 1,501 owner-occupied houses and 7,008 renter-occupied houses where the households were overburdened (i.e., over 30 percent of income) by housing costs. This represents about 10 percent of the households that own, but 45 percent of the households that rent. Unless good quality, affordable housing is available through the private or public market, this group is most likely to live in housing which, due to its age, condition, size, or location, will not command higher rents or be in serious demand by other tenants. The demand for good quality, affordable housing, whether through the rehabilitation of existing units or construction of new units has long been a goal of the City of Kalamazoo, and substantial resources have been committed to this effort. However, many low and moderate income individuals and households continue to live in substandard housing, and affordable housing remains a pressing need for a large segment of the population.

b. Owner Housing

The owner-occupied market is less heavily dominated by any single group. Housing sales have been steady across the spectrum of housing cost, ranging from the $100,000+ market to the $40,000 market. However, construction of new single-family homes in the last ten years has been very limited (239 single-family units compared to 1,447 multiple-family units), with a substantial number of units intended for student rentals. A number of factors have influenced the lack of new single-family housing construction; including the lack of available, appropriately situated vacant land, the availability of existing housing for sale in the City, City tax structure, and significant construction of new housing in outlying areas, within commuting proximity of the City of Kalamazoo.

c. Special Populations

Another issue influencing housing in Kalamazoo is the increasing provision of housing for special populations including the homeless, and the physically, developmentally or mentally disabled who have increasingly found housing in the neighborhoods across the community. Much community attention has been directed to clarifying the scope and nature of these uses and determining their place in the community, particularly for group housing for rehabilitation uses.

 d. Housing Quality

Due to the age and modest value of some of Kalamazoo's housing stock, housing quality is a serious issue. For many years, the City of Kalamazoo has dedicated the majority of its Community Development Block Grant funding exclusively to meeting the housing needs of low and moderate income residents of the community, including rehabilitation and new construction activities. The probability that these funds will be reduced by the federal government in the future is high, and future entitlements may be targeted to other programs such as economic development. Facing a loss in funds for rehabilitation and construction, reprioritization of city objectives may include maximizing funds through stemming further deterioration of moderately deteriorated housing rather than major rehabilitation projects which absorb large amounts of grant funds. To stimulate new construction by the private sector, incentives may be considered ranging from land donations, fee waivers and comparable benefits to tax incentives and similar economic stimulants.

In any event, it can be anticipated that housing deterioration will continue to be a substantial issue, particularly in the north and east parts of the community. The Rental Inspection Program will be an important factor in monitoring much of the housing stock, and careful evaluation of inspection results may be important in determining if rehabilitation assistance will be cost effective in individual cases.

 e. Building Permit Activity

Table V-1 summarizes building permit activity in Kalamazoo County and the City of Kalamazoo from 1980 through 1995. A detailed breakdown of countywide building permit activity by jurisdiction can be found in Appendix A.

The data indicates a jump in building activity in the City of Kalamazoo from 1994 to 1995. In 1994 there were only 36 building permits issued for new private housing units as compared to the 309 issued in 1995. The increase in permits County wide was not as large (1,109 to 1,371). Most of the new private housing permits issued in the City in 1995 were for multiple-family dwellings. Only eight percent were for single family homes. In terms of past building permit history, on average from 1990 through 1995, 100 permits were issued annually with 23 percent for single-family housing. During the ten-year period from 1980 to 1989, an average of 280 permits were issued annually, 9% for single-family units. Building permit data for a 16-year period, 1980 through 1995, show an annual average of 212 permits issued, 24 (11%) for single family units.

 In terms of total housing permits issued, from 1990 to 1995, 598 permits were issued. For this six-year period, 139 or 23 percent were for single family units. Building permits for the last six years have been down from higher levels of building activity during the latter half of the 1980's. The data indicates a large number of multiple-family dwellings were constructed during this time period, most likely to meet the housing demand of the student population.

 The available building permit data equates to nearly 3,400 new housing units built from 1980 to 1SD5, 11 percent of which is single-family. This substantiates the trend in declining owner occupied housing in the City of Kalamazoo.

f. Summary Of Trends Affecting Housing

Given the demographic characteristics of the community and its residents, the observed physical characteristics of the housing stock in Kalamazoo, and the background and future goals and objectives presented in City housing studies, the following trends can be anticipated.

1. Continued increase in the demand for rental housing, particularly for student housing.

It is likely that student enrollment will continue to increase, and that the demand and

competition for off-campus housing will continue.

 2. Lack of good quality, affordable rental housing for low income individuals/households,

in proportion to demand. Due to governmental cutbacks, low income families may be

especially limited in their ability to find affordable housing.

 3. Limited development level of large scale new single family housing, due to lack of vacant land and availability of existing units for purchase.

4. Continued shortage of vacant land for new development leading to possible redevelopment of underutilized or deteriorated areas for new construction.

 5. Ongoing housing quality issues, and prioritization of housing rehabilitation needs, due to

reduced resources, and increased private sector participation in new affordable housing


6. Continuing demand for housing for special populations, and definition/regulation of

permitted locations for specific types of group housing uses.

7. Increased support for redevelopment of downtown commercial spaces may lead to increased opportunities for good quality residential units.

8. Community concern regarding siting of affordable housing units/projects throughout the community, instead of focusing in traditionally lower and moderate income neighborhoods.

With these issues and background data in hand, the community can begin to establish its position on housing issues, and formulate goals which bridge the gap between existing conditions and visions for the future to meet housing needs.

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