October 24, 2012

Nick K Telegram story

The city's overall housing vacancy rate jumped by more than 50 percent during the past decade, rising to 8.1 percent in 2010 compared to 5.2 percent in 2000, according to a housing market study done for the city.The study, prepared by RKG Consultants, also found that the city still exceeds the statewide mandate requiring that at least 10 percent of its housing supply be comprised of “affordable” units.

Of Worcester's nearly 75,000 housing units, 9,486 are so-called “income-based housing,” which accounts for 12.8 percent of the housing supply.  Based on projected needs, the consultant has suggested that the city should consider maintaining a supply of 9,000 to 9,600 income-based housing units over the next five years.  Between 2000 and 2010, the number of vacant housing units in the city increased by 2,340 units, to a total of about 6,000 units, according to the study. The dramatic jump in the vacancy rate was fueled in part by a growing number of bank-foreclosed properties that have yet to be made available for sale or rent.

Also, there are indications that a large number of units, especially those in older multifamily homes, are being kept off the market by owners to avoid factors such as strong tenancy laws, the decline of desirable renters, capital costs to bring units up to code, or general disinterest in being landlords. In addition, housing production in the city since 2000 averaged nearly 430 units per year, but household growth was unable to keep pace with that — it was sufficient to occupy only 40 percent of the housing that was created, with the remaining 60 percent representing “excess market supply.”

“Future housing production is likely to slow down over the near term in order for household growth to catch up, which is similar to what occurred during the 1980s,” the report said. “Alternatively, vacant units can be reduced through strategic demolition and consolidation.” The last time the city's vacancy rate came close to 8 percent was back in the1980s — an overproduction of housing that occurred back then led to a 7.9 percent vacancy rate by decade's end, according to the report.

Worcester's housing vacancy rate is also nearly double what it is in the region (4.4 percent) and more than double what is typically considered a “balanced” vacancy rate in the 3 percent to 4 percent range. The vacancy rate in the city ranged from 5 percent to as high as 16 percent, with the highest rates occurring in urban neighborhoods such as Green Island, Main South, the downtown and the East Side. Lower vacancy rates existed in the West Side, the Greendale/Burncoat area, Green Hill and Beaver Brook areas, all of which had rates of 6 percent or less.

The study pointed out that older, physically and economically distressed housing units had the highest vacancy rate, a factor it considers important to Worcester's future housing needs since 52 percent of its housing stock was built before 1940 and 78 percent was built before 1980.  “The concentration of (higher) vacancy in the urban core indicates a relative lack of demand for this area which may be a reflection of housing quality,” the report said.

City Manager Michael V. O'Brien said the study makes it clear that physically and economically distressed properties, including vacant buildings, bank- or tax-title properties, are eroding the quality of some neighborhoods.  He said the city finds itself at a critical crossroads in which it must strengthen and adapt its housing resources at a time when the economy is at a near standstill. “These great neighborhoods have been in a delicate balance of stability for some time and many have held their own, in large measure due to those who are and work hard to do so,” Mr. O'Brien said. “The challenge is far too great now, with far too much to lose. Great work has been done and hundreds of millions of dollars have been poured into many of these distressed neighborhoods and still ground is being lost every day.
“Our revitalization efforts must be undertaken in a much bolder, strategic way through unprecedented public-private partnerships — in a block-by-bock, street-by-street and house-by-house manner,” he said. “We must use this opportunity to revisit our existing policies and funding priorities.”

In conjunction with the housing study report, the city manager has come out with a strategy intended to ensure that Worcester remains an attractive place for people to live. His strategy focuses on the need to eliminate blighted housing units, renovating vacant or underutilized properties in poor quality into high-quality residential properties, incorporating private and public housing development initiatives into a broader economic development plan, and promoting home ownership opportunities.  “The work ahead will be complex and will be most challenging,” Mr. O'Brien said.
Other key findings in the study were:
•It is estimated that about $120 million in capital investment is needed to upgrade the condition of the 5,676 housing units that are considered to be in “below average” condition, or worse. The three-decker housing stock is in most need of capital investment, as 16 percent are considered to be in below average condition. Those houses in poor or very poor condition should be considered for demolition or replacement, given the city's excess supply of available housing.
•The city remains predominately a rental market, with homeownership increasing only marginally between 2000 and 2010 — 44.5 percent of the homes are owner-occupied.

•Over the last four years, petitions to foreclose averaged about 520 single-family homes and 150 condominiums per year. That represented 2.1 percent and 3percent of the single-family and condominium supply, respectively. In comparison, the number of petitions to foreclose in the region represented about 1percentof the respective housing supply there.

•It is estimated that about 33,600 households would qualify for income-based housing in Worcester which represents 49 percent of all households in the city.


Jahn said...

I am not sure how long this report has been out or how long it takes to get it on the CC calendar, but last night the CC has other (more important?) issues to deal with. That issue was Social service agencies and the fallout of panhandlers from these agencies.

Does the report mention the need reduce or eliminate non profit built, $513,000 apts?

May I inquire how the housing demographics will help things like City Sq, the empty airport, and the empty downtown?

Time for the politically incorrect moratorium on low income housing construction.

A year from now this report will be holed up with some CC subcommitte or Blue Ribbon committee and eventually it will be gathering dust, stored in the AUD. Same place the late 1980's housing report ended up. Did we have another housing report in the interim?

File under SSDD: Same Study Different Day

BTW, speaking of the AUD, was there a request for bids/proposals put out awhile back?

Anonymous said...

Read today that the old Worc. Voke building will be apartments with 1/2 being Section 8. This is a joke. Eventually it will all be Section 8 people living there because no middle class person is going to choose to live amongst Section 8 people so the apartments will go unrented and eventually end up in the hands of the Section 8 folks.

I don't want any more section 8 housing in the city. So what do we do with these buildings that are being rehabbed for Section 8 housing. We either 1) let them rot or 2) knock them down. Let's not kid ourselves, nobody else is going to rehab these buildings for any other purpose. I would rather knock them down completely than build Section 8 housing.

Jahn said...

OK here we go again and this aint no Trick or Treat. I fact it is a trick masquerading as a treat. 84 apts approved at old Boys Trade School site...42 low income & 42 market rate built by Winn Dev'ment and please do not tell me Winn is any different than other low income dev'ers, except they are a for profit builder.

79 parking spaces for 84 apts. that is less than 1/2 req'ed amount of 2 per dwelling unit.

This building should have been held for commercial dev'ment or razed for a parking lot. This could detract from the nice new commercial dev'ment that has happened in the immediate area for the last 10 years or so. I can just see the panhandlers over at the relatively new hotel 500 ft from this site or at the nearby intersectiosn or worse yet at the Art Museum.

WTF is wrong with this city !!!!!

And BTW this looks like more 1-2 bedroom apts at $357,142.86 a pop. My god that has to be in the neighborhood of $357 a sq. ft !!!!!! WTH does all this money go?

Meanwhile back at the other end of the ranch the old Burwick furniture building at Main & Madison is still w/o their parking lot which was undersized to begin with

Just what I need to hear about on a day that is already inundated w/ROBO political calls plus all these clowns who write to the T&G espousing their views on their candidate of choice. Why in God's name does the T&G print this crap. I give a rat's derrieire who someone else is voting for. T&G should just sell the space for advertisments or give a budding small business some freee ad space vs running these mindless endorsements from Jahn Q. Public.

David Z. said...

No they will not be section 8 at the Voke Lofts. They are being developed by the same developer, Winn Co., as the building on Water Sstreet. Half will be market rate and the other half will be based on affordable guidlines which does not mean they will accept section 8 vouchers. The Water Street building has been a huge success as I expect the Voke Lofts will be.

Bill Randell said...

agree with dave z on this one although i wish it was more 75/25, which I belive Water Street was

Jahn said...

Sorry guys, I just see affordable as a euphemism for subsidized. How do we know exactly what the nature is of the affordable element of Winns Water St apts? Also keep in mind these %'ages they throw around are only for purposes of getting the projects approved. Look at the good intentions when Great Brook Valley was built back in the late 1940's and a few decades later look at what it has morphed into...an abyss of all kinds of social ills.

Main & Madison St is an affordable project and the apts there are very, very expensive relative to say your average 3 decker.

AS Far as not accepting Section 8s, I am not so sure that is an option for any landlord.

Regardless of what kind of tenants occupy these affordable apts, the bottomline is affordable apts do not bring the kind of demographic with the disposlable income needed to move Worc and esp. downtown Worc forward. The entire downtown area is being surrounded by a moat of so called affordable housing. It is just inconsistent with what the city really needs.

Do we know what apts at Winns Water St site go for? Price ranges?