Housing Study Reveals Need
FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Over the next five years, counties in Northeast Indiana could support the development of nearly 16,000 new housing units.
The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, the Home Builders Association of Fort Wayne, Inc. and the UPSTAR Upstate Alliance of REALTORS® worked with Zimmerman/Volk Associates, Inc. to publish an analysis of residential market potential for 10 counties in Northeast Indiana.
The purpose of the study is to determine the market potential for new rental and for-sale housing units that could be developed within 10 of the 11 counties of the Northeast Indiana region over the next five years. The 10 counties include Adams, DeKalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley. Allen County was excluded because it is the home of Fort Wayne, the second-largest city in Indiana, and a market unto itself.
As Northeast Indiana works to attract and retain talent and grow the region’s population to one million residents by 2030 as part of the Vision 2030 initiative, available housing is a critical factor in relocation and retention decisions.
The study found the region could potentially absorb 8,775 to 10,975 new rental units, 765 to 955 new townhouses, and 2,645 to 3,965 new detached houses— a total of 12,185 to 15,895 new housing units over five years.
Michael Galbraith, director of the Road to One Million at the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, said he hears consistently from regional employers, local economic developers and elected officials outside of Allen County that the housing market is in a critical upside-down state.
“For a number of years, and particularly after the recession that started in 2008, the ten counties outside of Allen haven’t had enough new houses, townhomes and apartments built to attract new residents to their cities and towns. Not only that, but the rehab efforts seen in places like downtown Fort Wayne and the West Central neighborhood haven’t yet occurred in large measure in our rural counties. This lack of growth has kept the value of existing houses low while the cost of constructing new houses continues to rise,” said Galbraith.
Galbraith said this situation creates a scarcity of quality housing that drives potential new employees away from accepting good jobs at Northeast Indiana businesses, exacerbating the region’s critical labor challenges.
Beth Walker, board president of Upstate Alliance of REALTORS, said understanding the issues, then defining and measuring the challenges, are the first steps to addressing housing needs.
“Realtors® can best serve the community by understanding the region’s market. This housing study is not only critical in forecasting future growth and investment in these 10 counties, but also in preparing our membership for a potential shift in housing availability,” said Walker.
The study presents a clear picture of housing needs in the region, with 52 percent of the need in multi-family rental housing and nearly 40 percent in single-family detached housing.
Less in-demand are multi-family for-sale units like condominiums, representing less than 3 percent and single-family attached units like townhouses or duplexes comprising 6 percent of the need.
The analysis compared households by life stages to better understand housing opportunities, and the following groups make up a percentage of the total residential market potential:
Traditional and non-traditional families account for 45 percent of the market potential
Younger singles and childless couples account for 31 percent of the market potential
Empty nesters and retirees account for 24 percent of the market potential
For low-income households, a significant number of the proposed rental market opportunities are designed to correspond to the annual incomes of entry-and lower-level workers in the manufacturing industry, where hourly wages for those workers range between $13 and $20 per hour.
Identifying Housing Type
Beth Johnson, executive director at the Home Builders Association of Fort Wayne, Inc. (HBA), noted that within their six-county jurisdiction there were more than 1,400 single-family permits pulled in 2018; 411 of those were in Adams, DeKalb, Huntington, Wells and Whitley counties.
“With the potential for 12,000 to 15,000 new housing units in the 10-county region over the next five years, the findings of this study will help area builders and developers project their paths for investment and growth in the noted housing markets and meet the needs of the local community. The HBA’s mission is to promote the building industry and our members while providing the tools they need to succeed. We are committed to projects that help improve the community in which we live, work and play,” said Johnson.
The study identified types of housing appropriate for Northeast Indiana, including:
Mansion Apartment Buildings
Courtyard Apartment Buildings
Loft Apartment Buildings
Mixed-Use Apartment Buildings
Apartments Above Retail
Currently, there are several developments funded by the Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority in progress or nearing completion that encompass elements of the types of housing identified by the study.
Northeast Indiana RDA-funded projects:
Skyline Tower in Allen County
North Buffalo Street Redevelopment Project in Kosciusko County
Enterprise Center in Steuben County (phase one)
UB Block in Huntington County
Posterity Scholar House in Allen County
The Landing in Allen County
The study was funded by the Regional Opportunities Council, the investor board of the Regional Partnership, Home Builders Association of Fort Wayne, Inc. and Upstate Alliance of REALTORS®.
Next, the Regional Partnership will convene a housing committee to develop regional strategies and solutions to current housing needs based on the new data. The committee is made up of local and regional economic developers, banking professionals, realtors and other developers.
To access the data, visit the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership's Infrastructure section on the Regional Reports page at www.neindiana.com.
About the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership
The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership’s mission is to build, market and sell Northeast Indiana to increase business investment. Founded in 2006, the public-private partnership strives to build a globally competitive region. The Partnership’s Vision 2030 framework supports collaborative regional efforts to increase per capita income, population growth and educational attainment by focusing on business attraction, talent attraction and talent development. The Partnership represents 11 member counties: Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley. For more information, visit www.neindiana.com.
Vice President of Marketing & Strategic Communications
Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership