Michigan officials report housing shortages

June 21, 2018
Mandira Banerjee

ANN ARBOR—Many local governments in Michigan feel they have a shortage of housing in their counties and cities, according to a survey from University of Michigan researchers.

About 40 percent of local officials say they have too little single family housing and nearly half say their county has too little multifamily housing.

“The survey shows that there is a shortage of housing, whether it is entry-level, mid-level or high-end,” said Tom Ivacko, associate director of the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) at U-M’s Ford School of Public Policy.

Some analysts note that rising mortgage rates and competition over low inventory are driving up prices for home-buyers in every sector, particularly for first-time or entry-level buyers, Ivacko said.

To deal with the shortage, some local jurisdictions say they are changing policies to boost housing constructions.

“About 30 percent of jurisdictions in southeast Michigan say they are changing policies to try to boost housing construction, compared to the statewide average of 18 percent of jurisdictions doing this,” said Debra Horner, project manager at CLOSUP.

The data come from the Michigan Public Policy Survey, an ongoing poll of Michigan’s 1,856 local governments conducted by CLOSUP. The fall 2017 survey received a 76-percent response rate with results from 1,411 jurisdictions.

Among the survey’s key findings:

  • By jurisdiction type, local officials from counties (41 percent) and cities (40 percent) are the most likely to say they have too little single-family housing.
  • Nearly half (46 percent) of county officials say their county has too little multifamily housing, and 41 percent of city officials also mentioned the lack of housing.
  • Over half (52 percent) of local leaders from all jurisdictions reported that housing stock is out of date and 53 percent report that they have housing stock that suffers from blight.
  • When looking by jurisdiction type, half of county leaders say there is too little entry-level housing in their counties; 53 percent of city leaders say there is too little mid-range housing in their cities.
  • Relatively few local leaders (17 percent) believe their jurisdictions’ policies are part of the problem with housing shortages.
  • There is sizeable support among local leaders for a range of potential actions the state government could take to help improve housing supplies across the state. Though no single policy of the eight presented garners majority support, there is also very little opposition among local leaders to these possible state interventions.

The researchers say that addressing housing shortages can help not only potential owners and renters, but also increase local government revenues from property taxes, create new jobs in the residential construction workforce and decrease blight.

Housing shortages report
Michigan Public Policy Survey
Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy
U-M Ford School of Public Policy