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Report: Changes in housing trends will bring challenges to Detroit region

downtown detroit
flickr user Tim Wang

The city of Detroit has been losing population for decades, but that could soon change.

Southeast Michigan is expected to gain approximately 380,000 households by 2040, according to anew report from the Urban Institute.

Detroit and surrounding communities are expected to see a pivot in coming years -- with a return to growth in the city and slower growth in the suburbs. Mark Treskon, one of the lead researchers on the report, says Detroit has reached a point where the population isn't going to get much lower.

"Even if there's still technically a small decline right now, we're kind of at the transition point where the city itself is kind of moving to stabilization and then hopefully eventual growth," Treskon said.

The growth will also bring several big challenges to the region in the coming decades:

  • Senior-headed households are expected to double -- making up 37% of the Detroit region's households by 2040, compared to 22% in 2010. 
  • African American homeownership is expected to decline, if current trends continue. The report projects that there will be 31,000 fewer homes owned by African Americans in 2040 than there would have been if rates had stayed at 2000 levels.
  • Affordable rental housing is lacking in southeast Michigan and the state in general, but renter households are expected to increase in coming years. Much of the demand for rental housing will come from aging households, though steady demand from younger populations is also expected to grow.

When it comes to planning for the coming decades, Treskon stresses the need for ongoing conversation across communities about how to address these challenges.
"Coming to an understanding that some of these things are not just your own municipality's or neighborhood's issues, but the whole area is kind of facing it, is the first step to finding a way to respond," Treskon says.

The report identifies several key areas for communities to consider as housing trends change, including affordability, quality, inclusion and stability.

Rebecca Kruth is the host of All Things Considered at Michigan Public. She also co-hosts Michigan Public's weekly language podcast That’s What They Say with English professor Anne Curzan.
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