Make no mistake, there is a housing vacancy crisis in Dayton. And it is severe enough to be getting national attention, making the cover story in this months Governing magazine:
The house at 608 Oxford Avenue is in bad shape, but its neighborhood is worse. Next door sit two vacant lots where condemned residences already have been torn down. Like 608, the houses at 602 and 604 are boarded up, while all that's left of the house across the street is a set of concrete steps leading up to nothing. The story is the same on block after block of this old working-class district, just across the Mad River from downtown Dayton, Ohio. Driving around, Dayton City Commissioner Dean Lovelace points to a big empty parcel of land and says, "Even drug dealers are starting to abandon this neighborhood."
(you can follow the link to the full story, which is a comparison of Las Vegas and Dayton, as both places have lots of vacant units. It’s one of the better journalistic treatments of the situation)
Dayton Most Metro had blog post from Dayton City Commissioner Nan Whaely on this very topic. Whaley’s post has links to a big study and policy recommendations by ReBuild Ohio, apparently a nonprofit advocacy group
Its called “500 Million & Counting, the Cost of Vacant Properties to 8 Ohio Cities”, and it puts some numbers on the problem, and maps out locations of the vacancy, so one can see the geographical pattern.
So one gets a pretty stunning at-a-glance picture of the vacancy crisis in Dayton city (suburbs are omitted, and that would be good intel, too, if it can be shown the crisis is crossing city limits).
Mapping Vacancies in Dayton
First off, the key on this map uses two classifications
- White boxes: Vacant units that are not in the housing market..not being actively marketed as rentals or sales, but “secure”, not boarded up yet. As of Jan. 2007 there was 2,403 of these
- Yellow boxes: Vacant units that are boarded up, or are too deteriorated to board-up. As of Jan. 2007 there was 1,418 of these.
Add to those numbers vacant lots. There were 1,996 tax delinquent abandoned vacant lots in 2006. Vacant lots are not shown here.
Presumably the cities new demolition push will be drawing down the backlog of “yellow boxes”., but the inventory will be replenished by additional board- ups and units deteriorating to the point of needing to be demo’d
So, on to the maps:
The city as a whole:
What should blow your mind is how widespread this problem is. Its as if neighborhoods that are not seeing a lot of vacancies are the exception, not the rule.
East and West of the Great Miami
Now, lets take a closer look, going counter clockwise around the city, starting with southeast Dayton
Finishing up with the neighborhoods west of Gettysburg: Ridgewood Heights, Residence Park, Townview, Greenwich Village, etc.
So it looks pretty intense out there, but note that the scale of the box symbols are large, which makes the situation look worse, yet does show clusters better, where one can see bunching up in certain neighborhoods.
The Governing article spins the Dayton vacancy crisis as a result of the foreclosure issue. I think the vacancy problem here goes back further, & that foreclosures are a recent part of the story (presumably leading to more “white boxes” on the map), overlayed on an ongoing vacancy and abandonment problem. Actual abandonment and boarding-up might be further down the pike for recently foreclosed properties, but not all of them.
So what is the end state, when will this situation reach equilibrium?
Will we see the Detroitification of Dayton, where large swaths of the city become mostly vacant, with occasional clusters of houses?
(image from a Detroit Free Press series on urban landscapes of Detroit)
What one is seeing, mostly on the west side, are new houses replacing demolished, in some cases entire blocks of new houses. I think this infill phenomenon is due to a charter school teaching building trades, but not sure if it's just due to this trade school, as there seem to be a lot being built
Making lemonade out of lemons, but two questions:
- Can this new construction keep up with the city demo program’s quicker pace?
- Will there be an upper limit to the market for these new houses in Dayton, after which newly vacant lots stay vacant?