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Report: Detroit now has more renters than homeowners

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Michelle & Chris Gerard

As a city built with so many single-family homes, the loss of population over the last few decades, including a huge 27% loss between 2000 and 2015, is showing its impact on homeownership. A new report from Detroit Future City highlights this reverse in housing, and the impact it has on the people who live here.

Detroit Future City

From the map, we see the most impact in a few key areas: the Live6 and Green Acres neighborhoods in the north, Grandmont Rosedale, the west side near Warrendale, and East English Village.

Detroit Future City

The change in renters map above shows a large increase in rentals in Downtown, Corktown, Midtown, and Southwest, and a big shift in rentals from homeownership in the neighborhoods listed above.

The report states that,

“Only 703 homes in Detroit were purchased with mortgages in 2016, up from 557 in 2015, figures lower than comparable legacy cities with healthier housing markets such as Cleveland, Ohio and Buffalo, New York. As current housing market trends indicate Detroit will be a city where renters are increasingly important to the future of neighborhoods, it is important to ensure that this shift will have a positive effect on neighborhoods.”

The report then details safety concerns that come with older houses that serve as rentals, including lead-based paint and deferred maintenance that comes with lower-priced rentals. Also to note is that the rental might be priced low, but many residents in the city still have a lower income compared to the rental prices. “Detroit currently has a poverty rate of 40 percent, and 41 percent of households earn less than $20,000 a year. Even with the low cost of housing in the city, the relatively low income of residents leads to housing affordability issues. Half of Detroit’s renters spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing and, 37 percent of renters are spending more than half of their income on housing.”

Will this trend turn back around in favor of homeownership? Programs like the Detroit Home Mortgage, introduced last year, are working to help residents obtain mortgages, whether the house is move-in ready or needs renovations. Much of the new construction so far is rental properties, with limited condos in the pipeline. What do you think, Curbed readers? How can the city make it easier for people to own their homes?