Ann Arbor’s renter occupancy rate is highest in the region

Renter-occupancy in the Southeast Michigan makes up only about a quarter of the region’s housing tenure rates, according to the 2013 American Survey. The majority of municipalities in the region had fewer than 20 percent of residents residing in a rental property. However, there were several cities near Detroit with renter occupancy rates above 35 percent. Washtenaw County had the highest overall renter occupancy rate at 39.2 percent probably because of the number of students attending universities there; Wayne County came in second to that at 35.2 percent.

As defined by the American Community Survey, residency is defined as where an individual was staying at the time of the survey, so long as they were, or intended to be there, for two months or longer.

According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) renting has been an increasing nationally. For example, in 2013 about 43 million households (or more than 35 percent of the all U.S. households) rented rather than owned a home. JCHS attributed the changing homeownership rates largely to the Great Recession. JCHS suggested that following 2008, homeownership was perceived as more risky as people witnessed the large wave of foreclosures that occurred, the drop in home values, and the costs of relocating in order to find better and more stable employment. The freedom renting provides, particularly for millennials, was noted as another reason why the rental market is growing. For these reasons, as well as the expected increase of immigrants coming to the U.S., over the next 10 years, JCHS predicted that the number of renter households will increase by up to 4.7 million by 2023.


Although renting is growing nationally, the JCHS states that rates are higher in central cities where land prices are high and r pool is made up of those whose incomes are below $30,000. In terms of age, the JCHS said low income housing is centralized. The Joint Center said more millennials tend to rent compared to older generations, such as the baby boomers.

In the seven counties of Southeastern Michigan, 26.6 percent of households were renter occupied in 2013. Among municipalities, Detroit was a hub for rental occupancy in the region: 48.1% of households being renter occupied. There were also pockets of high rental residency outside the city. Many of those locations border the city of Detroit. For example, Ferndale had a renter occupancy rate of 37.9 percent, Hazel Park’s rate was 40.9 percent, and the city of River Rouge’s was 43.5 percent.

Pontiac, the county seat of Oakland County, had a renter occupancy rate of 51.0 percent, a rate higher than Detroit’s. As noted earlier, millennials and those with incomes below $30,000 a year are more likely to rent. The median age in Pontiac in 2013 was 33.5 years and the median household income was $27,528.

The city of Ann Arbor’s renter occupancy rate was 54.3 percent, also above Detroit’s rate. While Ann Arbor’s median income in 2013 was $55,003, it is home to the University of Michigan, which has a student population of about 43,000. A median age of 27.5 and the large student population better explains the high rental occupancy rate there.

Other pockets of high rental occupancy rates were along the I-275 corridor, near Port Huron in St. Clair County and along Lake Erie and the western border of Monroe County.

The city of Detroit had one of the highest rates of renter occupied households in the seven county region at 48.1 percent. There were only eight census tracts in the city where 20 percent or fewer of the homes were not renter occupied. The areas in the city with the highest renter occupied rate were the downtown area, Midtown (where Wayne State University is located), and the Jefferson East area. Additionally, the median income in Detroit was $26,325 in 2013 and the median age was 34.9.

As one of the many efforts to revitalize Detroit, companies and organizations such as Wayne State University, the Detroit Medical Center, Henry Ford Health Systems and Quicken Loans have offered employees monetary incentives to live in the city of Detroit. These incentives are offered through the Live Midtown and the Detroit Live Downtown programs and could also be seen as a reason why the rental rate is what it is in Detroit. In addition to city’s median income and age showing a link to the JCHS’ explanation for high rental rates, we also know that certain areas in Detroit (such as Midtown and Downtown) are becoming more attractive to people because of the night life, creative outlets, parks and proximity to sporting and entertainment events.

Washtenaw County has highest percentage of foreign-born residents

The U.S. Census Bureau defines a foreign-born person as “anyone who was not a U.S. citizen at birth. This includes respondents who indicated they were a U.S. citizen by naturalization or not a U.S. citizen. Persons born abroad of American parents or born in Puerto Rico or other U.S. Island Areas are not considered foreign born.”

In 2012, 12.9 percent of the U.S. population was foreign-born and 6 percent of Michigan’s population was foreign-born, according to American Community Survey. While no county in Southeast Michigan had a higher percentage of foreign-born residents than the entire United States overall, four of the seven counties in the region did have a higher foreign-born population percentage than Michigan.

We saw in a previous post that Oakland County had the highest percentage of refugee residents in the region in 2012. This post shows that Washtenaw County had the highest percentage of foreign-born residents in that same year.


As noted, Washtenaw County had the highest percentage of foreign-born residents in 2012. During that time, 11.4 percent of Washtenaw County’s population was made up of foreign-born residents. Oakland and Macomb counties, which had the largest refugee populations, were the only other counties in the region where more than 10 percent of the population was made of foreign-born residents. In Oakland County, 11.2 percent of the population was foreign-born and in Macomb County 10 percent of the population was foreign-born.

Monroe County had the lowest percentage of foreign-born residents at 2 percent.


We see above that much of the foreign-born population in Washtenaw County resided in and around Ann Arbor.  Within Ann Arbor and portions of Scio, Pittsfield and Ypsilaniti we see that the foreign-born population made up 20 percent or more of the population. Throughout the rest of the county though, particularly the west side, the foreign-born population made up less than 5 percent of the population.


Wayne County, which had a foreign-born population of 7.7 percent, had both the municipality with the highest percentage of foreign-born residents and the lowest. The foreign-born population in Hamtramck made up 43.1 percent of the city’s population. Highland Park’s population was only made up of .4 percent of foreign-born residents.

Other municipalities throughout the tri-county region where more than 4 percent of the population was foreign-born were: Detroit (Wayne), Dearborn (Wayne), West Bloomfield (Oakland), Troy (Oakland) and Sterling Heights (Macomb).


In Detroit, where 5.1 percent of the population was foreign-born, the majority of these residents resided in and around Southwest Detroit. In Southwest Detroit, that neighborhood’s population was 47 percent foreign-born. Springwells, West Riverfront, Vernor, Chadsey, Hubbard, and Boynton were other Detroit neighborhoods where 20 percent of more of the population was foreign-born. As we learned in a previous post, much of the foreign-born people living in this area of Detroit are of Hispanic descent.