Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Changing Kettering

The discussion around the Section 8 issue in the DDN comments section indicates that Kettering people perceive a deteriorating situation in their suburb. This is probably true, probably quite noticeable to people who lived there a long time.

The thing you need to know about Kettering is that it's not a monolithic stereotyped postwar suburb. There are some very wealthy areas like "Kettering West of Far Hills" (a continuation of the Oakwood estate country). There are some old streetcar suburbs and Pre WWII/Roaring '20s plats. And then there is the Pearl Harbor Suburbia of, say 1939-45, which was the start of the build-out of the 1920's plats. Finally then there are the postwar plats, a mix of modernist ranches, split levels, and cape cods of various sizes, from cracker box to really spread-out. There is also a substantial amount of apartment construction.

Kettering had a substantial population of blue collar workers, between 20% to 50% in most of the census tracts east of Far Hills in 1970, the last good year for factory work that paid a living wage, This kind of job has seen a long term decline to 2000, and is probably even lower now with the industrial contraction since 2000.

One can see this declining income in the near term by tracking the earned income tax credit (EITC) filings as a proxy for income stats. The EITC has a ceiling of around $36K for families with children, so an increase in filings would indicate an increase in lower incomes. And indeed these filings have been increasing since 2000:
Another way a lower income area might be visible is via the prevalence of fringe banking:

“…the vast majority of their customers are people stuck on the bottom third of economic ladder. John Caskey, a Swarthmore (Pa.) College economist who has studied pawn shops and check cashers, says many of their customers are the forgotten suburbanites -- working people who live above the official poverty level but still have a hard time getting by.”. well as thrift and discount stores and increasing retail vacancies.
And then there are the home foreclosures and sheriff sales. This is a problem all around the Dayton area, but Kettering does seem to have a clusters of these:

Putting it all together paints a picture of a deteriorating socio-economic situation in the north and east reaches of the suburb:

For a detailed look at Kettering's deteriorating socio-economic situation, with additional charts and maps of lower income areas, income declines, demographic changes, the housing burden, rental rates, crime stats, and "street photography" illustrating all the maps & charts click here.

After reviewing the thread at the link, one can infer that northeast Kettering is really becoming an extension of East Dayton, with incomes and rental rates equivalent to the city. There are also indications of a competitive rental market (about 30% of the housing units in Kettering are rentals), so there is no price barrier for Dayton people wanting rent in Kettering, though there is probably a differential in home sales prices.

I think this is what people are perceiving, that their suburb is under more economic pressure, and there might be more people moving up from Dayton.


MVRPC studies

2006-20010 Dayton-Kettering Consolidated Plan (homeless housing plan)

American Factfinder
& the Urban Atlas published by the Census in the 1970s (available in the WSU government documents department).

Brookings Institute EITC database

…and the "field research" of just driving around Kettering and thinking about what I'm seeing, and thinking about other similar areas I lived in.


D. Greene said...

Awesome write-up. I have noticed the area around Delphi on Woodman/Forrer deteriorating, as well as a lot of retail space lying stagnant along Wilmington/Smithville and the corner of Woodman and Dorothy Lane - the property there managed by Flagel is losing tenants if anything. The Greene is not helping that part of town, rather, it is probably hurting it.

Jeffrey said...

The Greene probably has very little to do with this part of Kettering aside from being next door to it. 10 to 1 the Greene is getting its customers from along the I-675 corridor or maybe the Far Hills area (do developers keep track of where the shoppers come from?...probably close-hold)

What I'm impressed with is how proactive Kettering City is becoming in redeveloping stuff & trying to keep ahead of the decline trend. They must see it coming & are trying to fight back.