Here’s what the Springfield Housing Study found about rental properties

The housing study that began a year ago has finally finished. The study, conducted by Atlanta-based APD Urban Planning + Management, reveals the lack of diverse housing options, aging homes, and mismatches between income and affordability in Springfield’s housing market, and recommends strategies to improve the situation for Springfield’s growing population. population.

The results and outline of next steps will be presented to the public Thursday evening from 6-7:30 pm in Lincoln Hall at Ozarks Technical Community College.

The study made demographic comparisons with Springfield’s peer cities – Independence, St. Louis, Columbia and Kansas City.

“Over this decade, the city has transformed from a homeownership-centric city to a renter-centric city,” said Steven Gonzalez, APD senior analyst. “We actually see that 42% of households currently own a home in the city of Springfield. We actually see that it has one of the lowest homeownership rates compared to its peer cities.”

Springfield also ranked lowest among these peers in terms of median income and educated population, with only 29% of residents having a bachelor’s degree or higher. Springfield also had the highest poverty rates. All of these factors put pressure on what residents can afford when searching for housing.

Housing affordability

Affordable housing is housing on which families spend less than 30% of their income.

When it comes to home affordability, the study shows that there is a surplus of affordable homes, yet they are often occupied by those whose income allows them to purchase a more expensive home. This also applies to rental properties, although the report identifies a “massive” shortfall in low-income rental housing, with nearly 9,000 additional units needed to meet the rental needs of low-income residents.

Most residential areas in Springfield are limited to single-family, which means they often exclude other types of housing that could be developed.

“Existing residential zoning is a major contributing factor to the lack of residential diversity, and thus the lack of housing types, both for sale and for rent,” said Deborah Jensen, senior director of planning and design at APD.

Springfield’s population is expected to continue to grow. With this growth, the number of renters will also grow faster than the number of homeowners if this deficit is not addressed.

Public concerns and reactions

While a lack of choice in housing and a mismatch between affordability and income levels are issues in the city’s housing, when it comes to neighborhoods, the loss of sidewalks, green space, and lights as well as the concentration of older housing and vacant lots in northwest Springfield must be addressed. To improve the overall quality of the place.

The study found that rental properties owned by landlord investors are largely concentrated in some older neighborhoods, including West Central, Roberson and Midtown. The study mainly looked at owner investors who owned 20 or more properties or were owned by LLCs or limited companies.

The majority of these properties were found to be in good or acceptable condition, although this was based solely on external appearance. In the West Central neighborhood, 11.1% of residential properties were owned by investor owners who owned 20 or more properties, and 42.3% of residential properties were owned by LLC, or LP, owners. For both categories, less than 10% of properties were rated as being in poor condition by consultants. Gonzalez said this is considered a “tipping point” — housing conditions in those areas could get worse if not addressed but could also improve with maintenance and upgrades.

Although the percentage of homes in poor condition was low, it still represented a significant number of rental properties — 588 — owned by LLCs or LLCs that were in poor condition or worse.

According to the 2022 Regional Health Assessment conducted by the Health Commission of the Ozarks, 28% of Springfield residents live in substandard housing. With nearly half of Springfield’s homes built between 1950 and 1970, maintenance has become increasingly important but also expensive.

Short-term rentals, which have become a growing concern for city regulations and neighbors alike, were not part of the study.

more: Springfield’s short-term rental policy has problems. Here’s how it stacks up against others in MO

Results of public engagement surveys conducted throughout the survey period reveal that Springfield residents want to see new types of housing, improvements and expansions in housing affordability as well as down payment assistance. Nearly half of participants supported commercial developments in the neighborhoods.

However, the most widely supported initiative cited by respondents was increased regulation of rental properties.

Strategies to consider

A more sustained and focused enforcement program and the adoption and funding of rent regulation were on the list of strategies proposed by APD to address housing issues.

The group presented a program in Kansas City, known as Healthy Homes, as a case study of one way rent regulation could work. Through the program, rental units are registered and the city health department conducts annual rental inspections for $20 per unit. Despite the lower fees, the city still sees surplus money coming in that can then be used to move those living in units found unsafe and fund lead abatement programs, Jensen said.

more: The City Council sets a deadline for staff to collect data and develop a plan for nuisance properties

Other recommendations to address housing and neighborhood issues include zoning amendments to allow new and diverse housing types, preserving affordable housing, improving connectivity and aesthetics, expanding the rehabilitation of vacant properties, and developing publicly owned housing and workforce housing. Some recommendations are already in place in the city, such as the restored SGF, and could use expansion or improvement, while others will be entirely new.

The study cost the city $256,000. Information about previous community meetings can be found on the city’s website. A final report on the findings will be presented to the City Council, although it serves as a pulse check of the city’s current residential landscape and the actual implementation of any recommended strategies will likely be lengthy and come in multiple phases.

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