The October 11 meeting started with a discussion of our less competitive housing in Middletown.
I’ve talked before about the concept of a balanced housing stock. The theory is that most of us go through a similar housing cycle during our lives. We move out of our parents home into a crappy apartment. We make a little money and we get a better apartment. We get more money and/or get married and we buy our first house. We have children and we purchase whatever our largest home is going to look like. The kids leave and we downsize as empty nesters. Finally, we retire and go back to smaller accommodations. In a balanced housing stock, the City of Middletown would have multiple quality housing options for people at every stage of their life. If they like living here, they can find great housing to move up or move down and stay here.
Simply put, we have too many two bedroom houses and too many “starter homes” that are less than $100,000 in value. While there is always a market for well maintained housing, we don’t stack up well against other southwest Ohio communities. Our overabundance of lower value and two bedroom housing makes Middletown less desirable than some other communities and that, in turn, keeps our housing values lower than surrounding communities.
As an example, if we wanted Middletown housing to mirror the rest of Butler County, the city would need to demolish 4,000 two bedroom homes and replace them with 3 and 4 bedroom homes.
If we wanted Middletown housing to mirror the rest of Butler County on housing value, we would need to demolish over 3,500 homes under $100,000 and replace them with new homes in the $150,000-$500,000 range.
We don’t have the revenues or land to accomplish either of those examples, but it demonstrates how our housing is truly different than other southwest Ohio communities and how our current housing mix makes it more difficult to recruit and keep quality families.
We discussed tools that the City could use over time to start to change that mix of housing. They included:
- Industrial Buffer – remove Lower Value, poorly maintained, two bedroom homes near heavy industry
- Add a Master Suite to Existing Homes where sensible in Target Neighborhoods to make the home 3 bedroom
- Require Infill Construction in Target Neighborhoods to be 3+ bedrooms and over $100,000 in value
- Add New Home Construction and require all to be 3+ bedrooms and over $150,000 in value
We then moved on to a discussion on what a health neighborhood looks like. What are the infrastructure, city-provided pieces and what are the other characteristics that make a neighborhood desirable to live in?
On the infrastructure side, we talked about paving streets, fixing sidewalks, and better utilizing alleyways for both safety and beautification. We talked about neighborhood parks, gateways into neighborhoods, and adequate street lighting.
From there we listed the “other” things that make a neighborhood desirable. That list included:
- Access to Reliable, Affordable Wi-fi
- Neighborhood Business Needs such as Convenience Stores/Retail
- Access to Quality Health Care
- Access to Nutritious Food
- Applying Smart City Concepts to Lower Income Neighborhoods
- School Readiness/ Tutoring for School Age Children
- Access to Reliable/Affordable Day Care
- Transportation Options
- Low Crime, Feeling of Personal Safety
- Access to Recreational Opportunities
- Ability to Train and Participate in the Work Force with Quality Jobs
- Beautification in the Neighborhood and Housing with Landscaping/ Trees
All of this work is designed to give the committee a thorough understanding of Middletown’s housing challenges and also to have the background in current best practices to start developing policies that over time will improve the look, value, and desirability of housing choices in Middletown.
For more information about the meeting or to view the presentation and materials discussed at the meeting, please click the link below.