Ball State Study Raises Vacant Housing Concerns

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Fort Wayne's efforts are funded through a statewide, federally-supported program. Fort Wayne's efforts are funded through a statewide, federally-supported program.
MUNCIE -

New research from Ball State University shows population loss throughout much of the state has led to an "overabundance" of empty single-family houses. The report shows, while the Indianapolis area is experiencing a "building boom," there are more than 300,000 empty houses spread statewide.

The study, "Economic Considerations for Indiana's Housing Markets," concludes 62 Indiana counties are facing markets where speculative new home construction is not profitable. Researchers say the roughly 316,000 vacant units are enough to house nearly one-third of Indiana's residents.

“Much of this enormous vacant housing stock is not readily suited for new residents,” said Center for Business and Economic Research Director of Research Dagney Faulk. “Individual homes may be badly decayed, or the homes may be located in undesirable neighborhoods.”

CBER Director Michael Hicks says Indiana's population growth has largely been contained to the 11-county Indianapolis metropolitan area, with that trend expected to continue. The remaining counties, the study says, have lost and are expected to continue to lose net population, increasing vacancy rates.

The report outlines multiple policy recommendations, including considering local economic dynamics before promoting new construction, stimulating residential growth through tax increment financing modifications and working to keep tabs on local housing supplies.

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