Affordability issues plague the landscape of American housing. But there is another crisis that's putting strain on the market, and that's vacancies, says CityLab's Richard Florida. In some areas, like the Rust Belt, there is even "hyper-vacancy" as Florida calls it.
A new report published by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, written by Alan Mallach of the Center for Community Progress, examines the extent of housing vacancy across America’s cities, identifies its staggering economic and social costs, and outlines policies to address it. Mallach uses data from the U.S. Census and U.S. Postal Service to identify vacant properties.
Florida writes: While housing vacancy has long been a problem in America, especially in economically distressed places, vacancies surged in the wake of the economic crisis of 2008. The number of unoccupied homes jumped by 26 percent—from 9.5 to 12 million between 2005 and 2010. Many people (and many urbanists) see vacancy and abandoned housing as problems of distressed cities, but small towns and rural communities have vacancy rates that are roughly double that of metropolitan areas, according to the study.
The number of vacant units has declined over the course of the recovery, but there are still more today than there were before 2005. Housing units that are considered temporarily vacant—that are neither on the market, being held for future occupancy, or being used seasonally—have increased by more than 50 percent, from 3.7 million in 2005 to 5.8 million in 2016.
Mallach’s study tracks vacancy rates in 10 large legacy cities, including Detroit and Cleveland; five small legacy cities, including Flint and Gary, Indiana; five Sunbelt cities, among them Atlanta and Dallas; and five magnet cities, including San Francisco, Boston, and Washington, D.C. Vacancy is a much bigger problem in legacy cities than it is in magnet or Sunbelt cities. The vacancy rate was roughly 17 percent in small legacy cities and 15 percent in large legacy cities in 2010, compared to 11 percent in Sunbelt cities and just 7 percent in magnet cities. Furthermore, vacancy rates increased by more than 80 percent in small legacy cities and nearly 60 percent in large legacy cities between 1990 and 2010, compared to just 3 percent in Sunbelt cities and a negative rate of 5 percent in magnet cities.Read More