Michigan Housing Futures

A new narrative is emerging about Southeast Michigan’s housing market. After decades of decline, the city of Detroit is showing signs of growth, and the broader region is expected to gain 380,000 households between 2010 and 2040. These projections provide policymakers an opportunity to reframe the city-versus-suburb debate to focus on shared solutions for regional challenges.

Urban Institute researchers are examining Southeast Michigan’s housing market through data analysis and discussions with local stakeholders as part of its ongoing engagement in the Detroit metropolitan area.

They framed this discussion in the July 2017 report Southeast Michigan Housing Futures: A Converging Story for the Detroit Metropolitan Area, which uses regional population and household projections to identify regional patterns of household formation and tenure. The projections indicate overall growth and a shift in regional patterns from one driven by suburban growth and population loss in Detroit to one of more shared growth and shared challenges.

These challenges include the growth in senior households, the decline in African American homeownership, and the increased demand for affordable, stable, and healthy rental housing. Out of these themes, the research team produced three policy briefs:

  • Housing an Aging Region
    With the number of senior-headed households in Southeast Michigan expected to double between 2010 and 2040 (from 413,000 to 828,000), and increase from 22 percent to 37 percent of the region’s households, this brief explores promising local interventions encompassing new development, preservation, services, and other supports, while stressing the importance of expanding these efforts to meet rapidly growing needs. 
  • Rebuilding and Sustaining Homeownership for African Americans
    African American households in Michigan disproportionately suffered from the effects of the housing crisis, with homeownership rates dropping from 51 percent in 2000 to 40 percent in 2016. This brief recommends strategies related to tax foreclosures and land contracts, two pressing and interrelated issues that present challenges to homeownership regardless of race but disproportionately affect African Americans.
  • Building and Protecting Affordable and Adequate Rental Housing
    Demand for rental housing is expected to continue growing throughout Southeast Michigan. But in a region where only 28 rental housing units are affordable and available for every 100 extremely low–income rental households, the disconnect between demand and supply is large. This brief focuses on how policies and programs can help build new affordable housing and preserve what’s already in place and stresses the importance of building community support for these efforts.

Urban further explored these themes in a web feature that highlights the perspectives of local leaders and examines places experiencing these three regional challenges firsthand.

The Urban Institute is collaborating with JPMorgan Chase over five years to inform and assess JPMorgan Chase’s philanthropic investments in key initiatives. One of these is a $150 million commitment to support and accelerate Detroit’s economic recovery. The goals of the collaboration include using data and evidence to inform JPMorgan Chase’s philanthropic investments, assessing whether its programs are achieving desired outcomes, and informing the larger fields of policy, philanthropy, and practice. Building on a body of work in Detroit and Southeast Michigan, the goal of this project is to examine the common challenges of an aging population, declining African American homeownership, and increasing renter housing demand from a regional perspective, all to further the dialogue and inform future collaboration among stakeholders throughout Southeast Michigan.