Detroit Vacancy Rate Remains at 22 Percent

There were only 26 fewer vacant Detroit properties between June 2016 and June 2017, according to the U.S. Postal Service. This was a tiny decrease compared to the total number number of Detroit addresses of 396,416, but it was a decrease in vacancies. The vacancy rate in the City of Detroit remained just above 22 percent.

There were two other decreases that were probably more important. First, there was a substantial decrease in the total number of addresses, likely indicating that more vacant properties are now vacant lots. Overall, between June of 2017 and June 2016 the total number of addresses decreased by 5,388. By June of 2017 there were 396,416 total addresses counted by the U.S. Postal Service, and of these, there were 88,329 vacant addresses. Of the 396,416 total addresses, 353,140 were residential addresses and 80,296 of those were residential vacancies, meaning the residential vacancy rate was 22.7.

Second, although the decrease in the number of vacant addresses was small between June of 2016 and 2017, the decline in the number of “no stat” addresses was much larger; that number decreased by 3,515 in the last year. There is substantial ambiguity in that number, though it likely indicates some improvement in the housing market. 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, as are addresses for properties that are still under construction. Urban addresses are labeled as no-stat when the carrier decides it is unlikely to be occupied again any time soon — meaning that both areas of high growth and severe decline may have no-stat addresses.

The maps below show the Detroit address vacancy rates by Census tract for June 2017 and the change in vacancy rates between June 2016 and June 2017. In total, there were about 65 Census Tracts in Detroit with total vacancy rates above 34 percent. The Census tract with the largest vacancy rate between June 2017 and June 2016 was located in a pocket of Census tracts along I-96 where the vacancy rates did not drop below 38 percent. The vacancy rate for this Census tract 54.3 percent. When looking at the second map the data shows that the largest vacancy rate increase for a Census tract was located in Southwest Detroit; the vacancy rate increase for that Census tract was 8.4 percent. The map also shows the largest vacancy rate increases were primarily concentrated in an area just east of Hamtramck and on the western side of the city near I-96.

Overall, the story this data shows is that the number of homes in the City is decreasing, and the number of vacant homes is slightly decreasing, though the exact number is ambiguous, given the uncertainty surrounding “no-stat” numbers. The decline in “no-stat” numbers is, however, consistent with recent population estimates. According the U.S. Census Bureau, between 2015 and 2016 the City of Detroit has lost about 3,541 residents; its population in 2016 was reported to be 672,795.

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