Northwest Michigan Council of Governments

Grand Traverse County Housing Inventory and Strategy

2012 Grand Traverse County Housing Inventory Now Available

The 2012 Grand Traverse County Housing Inventory with Appendices is now available online.

The Housing Inventory, which provides details on the value, condition, and other characteristics of the County’s housing stock, was prepared for Grand Traverse County by the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments. The inventory will be used to provide a foundation for community planning and strategy development.

Key findings of the document indicate that:

  • The majority of the County’s housing stock consists of single-family detached, owner-occupied housing – accounting for over 90% of the housing stock in some communities – with fewer housing choices that meet the needs of smaller households, individuals with disabilities, and low-income households. Few housing units – either rental or ownership units – in the County provide accessibility features; and the number of small rentals (one-bedroom or efficiency units) is considerably lower than the number of single-person rental households.
  • While housing values have dropped in many communities over the last several years, housing affordability remains an issue for low- or moderate-income households. Nearly half of all rental households pay over 30% of their income for housing; for households earning $20,000 or less, that percentage is nearly 80%.  And, while nearly 40% of owner-occupied households are considered low-income, only about a quarter of the County’s housing units are considered to be an “affordable” value for low-income households.
  • The typical household in Grand Traverse County spends 57% of their income on housing and transportation costs. In rural areas of the County, farther from employment opportunities, combined housing and transportation costs can account for well over 60% of a household’s budget.
  • The majority of homes in Grand Traverse County are in good condition, but about 800 homes are classified by tax data as being in “poor” condition, indicating that significant deterioration is present. Many of these are older mobile homes of lower construction quality; and nearly half are non-homestead, which could indicate that they are vacant or used as rentals.
  • The numbers of foreclosures and vacancies in Grand Traverse County have risen significantly. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of recorded foreclosures rose from 100 to 412, while the percentage of vacant housing units in the County increased by 41% between 2000 and 2010.

These issues have enormous consequences to the health, well-being, and economic stability of individual households and the County as a whole, with impacts on transportation needs, school enrollment, the economy, and overall quality of life.  As local, county, and regional organizations work to address these issues, the Housing Inventory will act as a foundation for strategies, policies, and actions. Data will be collected and maintained on an ongoing basis to provide evaluation benchmarks and to guide ongoing housing activities and policies.

Oversight in the development of the Housing Inventory was provided by the Grand Traverse County Housing Strategy Committee. Funding was provided through the Sustainable Communities Challenge Planning Grant Program. The Sustainable Communities grant program is made possible through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, an interagency partnership of the US Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Through this partnership, these three federal agencies came together to help places around the country develop in more environmentally and economically sustainable ways. To guide its work, the Partnership developed six livability principles:

  • Provide more transportation choices.
  • Promote equitable, affordable housing.
  • Enhance economic competitiveness.
  • Support existing communities.
  • Coordinate and leverage federal policies and investment.

The Community Challenge grant is also funding a new Master Plan process for the County. The Master Plan is a different approach compared to previous County plans. It will integrate local land use priorities into a county-wide policy by utilizing the leadership of local planning commissioners from local units of government, while building upon the principles of the Grand Vision.  The information contained herein will be used by the County in developing an affordable housing strategy through the master planning process. For more information on the Grand Traverse County Master Plan process, please visit