Detroit’s vacancies decline, according to US Postal Service

The most recent (June 2015) quarterly statistics from the U.S. Postal Service showed a decline in the number of vacant addresses in the city of Detroit. The total number of vacant addresses decreased by 1,936 from 92,464 to 90,528 for the period March 2015 to June 2015. The total number of residential addresses increased by 831 from 361,171 to 362,002. The total vacancy rate declined from from 22.8% percent to 22.3 percent.

However, the number of addresses classified as “no-stat” increased sharply by 1,563. Mail carriers denote properties as being either “vacant” or “no-stat.” Carriers on urban routes mark a property as vacant once no resident has collected mail for 90 days. Addresses are classified as “no-stat” for a variety of reasons. Addresses in rural areas that appear to be vacant for 90 days are labeled no-stat. So are addresses for properties that are still under construction, and urban addresses that the carrier decides are unlikely to be occupied again any time soon — meaning that both areas of high growth and severe decline may be labeled no-stat.

Source: United State Postal Service via HUD, March 2015.

June 2015 Address Vacancy Rates by Census Tract

(percentage of all addresses that are vacant)

Change in Address Vacancy Rates: June 2015 versus June 2014

(percentage point change)

Red = Increase in address vacancy rate

Green = Decline in address vacancy rate (improvement)

Top 25 Best Performing Neighborhoods for June 2015 versus June 2014

The map below illustrates the Detroit neighborhoods showing the largest percentage point reductions in their address vacancy rate. A reduction in the vacancy rate may result from an increase in occupancy or by way of demolition activity (which also reduces the number of vacant addresses). Concentrated demolition activity in the McNichols/Gratiot area has reduced the address vacancy rate but these areas still rank among the highest in the city at nearly 40 percent vacant.

For a map of demolitions, see the City’s Demolition Data Lens page at

Top 25 Worst Performing Neighborhoods for June 2015 versus June 2014

The highlighted neighborhoods showed the largest increases in their vacancy rates between June 2014 and June 2015. Sixteen of the top 25 census tracts which showed increases in address vacancy are located on the west side of the city. Two eastside neighborhoods near Van Dyke and Outer Drive also showed sharp increases in address vacancy.


Michigan’s CPL application process being modified

Each county in Michigan has a gun board which uses its discretion to determine if Concealed Pistol License (CPL) applicants meet the qualifications to obtain or renew their license. Each gun board has a representative from the County Prosecutor’s Office, the County Sheriff’s Department, and the Michigan State Police (MSP). Until December 1, 2015 it is at the discretion of each county gun board to determine if an applicant is fit to obtain or renew a CPL. While each gun board has the authority to request applicants to appear before it, Macomb County is the only county in the state to require all new applicants to appear before its gun board.

On December 1, 2015, however, this present system will change.

Under legislation signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in March (Public Act 3 of 2015), county gun boards in the state of Michigan will cease to exist after November 30, 2015. Instead, local control will shift to the state. The County Clerk’s Office will still process and distribute licenses, but the MSP will determine whether or not an applicant is fit to hold a CPL. According to the new law, the MSP will verify the requirements an individual must meet in order to obtain a CPL by using the law enforcement information network and the national instant criminal background check system. Should the MSP find that an individual is not qualified to have a CPL, that information will be relayed to the County Clerk’s Office.

According to Gov. Rick Snyder, these changes will allow for a more unified process that will “better support the rights of firearm owners.” Opponents, however, have criticized the change because of the loss of local control over the process. To read more on this issue, click here.

While any person is able to apply for a CPL the state has the right to deny such requests for a variety of reasons. This process, which will be slightly modified beginning Dec. 1, 2015, is intended to protect the public and prevent potential misuse of a firearm.

The map below shows the percent of CPL applications denied by each county in the Southeastern Michigan region in 2013. As shown, Wayne County had the highest denial rate at 4.5 percent while St. Clair County had the lowest denial rate at .8 percent.

To obtain a CPL in the state of Michigan there is a list of requirements that must first be met. These requirements, according to the state of Michigan, include:

  • Being at least 21 years of age;
  • Michigan residency for at least 6 months prior to application;
  • Successful completion of a pistol safety training course;
  • No felony convictions;
  • No convictions of specific misdemeanors (including domestic violence);
  • No personal protection orders filed against the applicant;
  • No diagnosed mental illnesses at the time of the application

For a complete list of requirements, visit this site.

CPL Licenses Denied

As seen above, in 2013, Wayne County had the highest CPL denial rate in the region at 4.5 percent while St. Clair County had the lowest denial rate at .8 percent. While there is no specific reason given for Wayne County’s rate of CPL denials, we do know that in 2012 Wayne County had the highest probation, incarceration, and prison rates in the seven-county region. A person will be denied a CPL if they have a felony or certain misdemeanors.


General Law Townships predominant government structure in Southeastern Michigan

In this post we examine the types of government structures that exist in Southeastern Michigan. Throughout Michigan there are five types of municipalities including: Mayor-Council and Manager-Council (both of which are for cities), Charter Township and General Law Township, and villages. In addition to showing what type of government structures exist in Southeastern Michigan in a map below, we also detail how those different structures work and offer some reasons a community chooses one structure rather than another.

Wayne County has the largest number of municipalities with a Mayor-Council form of government, while the more rural communities on the outskirts of the region are predominantly General Law Townships. In total, there are 22 municipalities with a Mayor-Council form of government, in this form the mayor serves as the chief administrator for the city), 10 of which are located in Wayne County. It is General Law Townships though that are the most common form of government in the region, with 72 communities being organized as one of Michigan’s earliest form of governments.

Charter Townships make up 19 percent (41) of government structures in Southeastern Michigan while Council-Manager forms of government makeup 29 percent (65) of the types of government structure that exists in the region. There are 20 villages in the region.

While Wayne County has more communities that operate with a Council-Manager form of government, and the largest number of cities, General Law Townships predominate along the outer edges of the region.

The Differences

As noted, General Law Townships are the most common form of government structure in Southeastern Michigan; all townships are General Law Townships unless incorporated in a Charter Township. General Law Townships were given the option to receive a Charter Township status beginning in 1947 when the State Legislature approved the Charter Township Act. This classification, according to the Michigan Township Association, allows for a more streamlined administration.

According to the Michigan Township Association, townships (both general law and charter) can only exercise powers given to them by state law. All townships are required to collect taxes, administer their local elections and perform property assessments. They also have the option to enact and enforce ordinances, offer local fire and police protection services, and operate parks and recreation programs, among other things, according to the Michigan Township Association. Additionally, all townships are governed by a Supervisor, Clerk, Treasurer and two or four trustees.

In terms of levying millages, General Law Townships are allocated at least 1 mill from the 15/18 mills that counties, townships, public schools and intermediate school districts receive, according to the Macomb Township website. Charter Townships though do not receive this same millage allocation. Rather, if they were chartered by a referendum, they can levy up to 5 mills. But if a township was chartered by a board resolution after 1978, then the voters must vote on whether or not a proposed 5 mills can be levied. Under either circumstance, townships can also levy up to 10 mills, but this must be approved by the voters, according to the Macomb Township website.

Townships are part of Michigan’s early history and began to be created in 1790 throughout the Midwest region as a way to help govern land throughout what is now the Midwest region, according to the National Township Association. In the Midwest, according to the National Township Association, townships are typically more rural, as we saw with majority of the General Law Townships being located on the outskirts of the seven-county. Also, according to the Michigan Township Association, a Charter Township status can help prevent a township from being annexed by a neighboring city. Several weeks ago we took a look at how the city of Detroit became the size it is today through annexation. When looking at the map in this post we see that the only township touching the Detroit border is Redford Township and that is a Charter Township. Additionally, we see that throughout Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, where the majority of the region’s cities are located, the majority of the cities border Charter Townships, as opposed to General Law Townships.


Unlike townships, cities must not only perform the same state mandated functions as townships, but they must also provide their own services, such as snow plowing, police and fire services (these services can be contracted out or shared between municipalities). According to the Michigan Municipal League, cities are given a greater amount of independence in how they regulate, in large part because of the Home Rule City Act; this allows cities to enact a charter which provides the framework for how that particular city functions.

The City of Detroit is the most recognizable example of the Strong Mayor type of city government in the region. A Strong Mayor type of government is one in which the mayor acts as the city’s top administrator, serves on a full-time basis, and has the authority to appoint and remove top officials. He or she also typically has some sort of veto power, but the council is the acting legislative body, according to the Michigan Municipal League.

In the Council-Manager form of government the council appoints a chief administrative officer, often known as the City Manager. This person is professionally trained on the day-to-day operations of a city and is often looked to for recommendations by the council regarding policy making.


In addition to townships and cities, there are also villages in the state of Michigan. Villages, which are the least common structure of government in Southeastern Michigan, also come in two forms: General Law and Home Rule. General Law villages, which are the most common, have a village president, which is an elected position, but it is the department heads who typically oversee the day-to-day administrative functions of the municipality. With a Home Rule Village, the president does not need to be elected by the citizens but can be appointed by the council; this person is often referred to as the village manager, according to the Michigan Municipal League.

Metro-Detroit’s home prices increasing

  • From May 2015 to June 2015, the unemployment rate across the state and in the city of Detroit’s decreased (monthly);
  • The Purchasing Manager’s Index for Southeast Michigan increased from May 2015 to June 2015 (monthly);
  • Commodity Price Index increased from May 2015 to June 2015 for Southeast Michigan (monthly);
  • Standard and Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index for the Detroit Metropolitan Statistical Area shows home prices are about $3,000 higher than this time last year.

According to the most recent data provided by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget, the unemployment rate for the state of Michigan decreased from 5.9 percent in May to 5.8 percent in June. During this same period, unemployment in the city of Detroit also marginally increased from 13 in May percent to 13.1 percent in June. However, it is 3.3 percentage points lower than where it was in June of 2014.

From May to June, the number of people employed in the city of Detroit increased by about 900, leading to a total of 212,107 people employed in June. Since March, the number of people employed in the city has increased by 2,690. In the last year, the month of March had the lowest number of people employed in the city of Detroit.

The above chart shows the number of people employed in the auto manufacturing industry in the Detroit Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) (Detroit-Warren-Livonia) from June 2014 to June 2015. From May to June the number of people employed in this industry increased by 1,600, to a total of 108,500. The June number is the highest employment number this industry has had in the last year.

The Purchasing Manger’s Index (PMI) is a composite index derived from five indicators of economic activity: new orders, production, employment, supplier deliveries, and inventories. A PMI above 50 indicates the economy is expanding.

According to the most recent data released on Southeast Michigan’s Purchasing Manager’s Index, the PMI for June 2015 was 66.1, an increase of 0.3 of a point from the prior month. It was also an increase of 19.0 from June of 2014.

The Commodity Price Index, which is a weighted average of selected commodity prices, was recorded at 60.7 points in June 2015, which was 4.4 points higher than the previous month and 4.2 points lower than June 2014.

The above charts show the Standard and Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index for the Detroit Metropolitan Statistical Area. The index includes the price for homes that have sold but does not include the price of new home construction, condos, or homes that have been remodeled.

According to the index, the average price of single-family dwellings sold in Metro Detroit was $101,930 in May 2015. This was an increase of $3,040 since May of 2014 but a decrease of $1,082 from April of 2015.