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Thread: Increasing homeownership near universities

  1. #1
    Cyburbian iamme's avatar
    May 2003

    Increasing homeownership near universities

    We've all seen the older residential neighborhoods near (usually) larger colleges. These areas generally have older housing stock that is cut-up into 3,4 or even 6 unit buildings. As more and more apartments are added, the quality of the neighborhood decreases and more homeowners move away. As prospective homeowners don't want to live in these areas either, more apartments are added and the cycle continues.


    This link shows how Winona, MN is trying to limit the number of rental properties to 30% per block. Can this strategy be copied or is it even the best way to deal with this type of neighborhood deterioration?

  2. #2
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
    May 2003
    Staff meeting
    I just read that article and yesterday I read a similar article about Madison, WI trying to reclaim some of the rental properties adjacent to UW for owner-occupied.

    I think the Winona case is too heavy handed and may have implications that they didn't account for, though it is good that they may be willing to review the ordinances in the future. The 30% maximum is probably not constutional because this is a major infringement on the proeprty rights of the other owners on the block. So, if the block currently has 50% of the properties on that block as rental, and existing are grandfathered in, then the block can't have anymore. That seems a bit strong.

    If a block is already 50% rental, and due to the exsiting number of rentals no one wants to be owner-occupied, but no additional properties can become rental, then the only other (potential) outcome would be abandonment, which is much worse than a typical student rental property.

    The better path would have been to require strong(er) registeration requirements and large registeration fees. That way one could discourage additional rental properties but not completely prohibit.

    When I was in school in Ann Arbor, I was always amazed and saddenned that many of the nicest and vbest located neighborhoods in the City are student ghettos. But the UofM has a policy to assist private landlords instead of the University providing sufficient on-campus student housing. Essentially, many wonderful neighborhoods are stuck in a cycle of student ghetto-ness.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Aug 2001
    The Cheese State
    Does this mean 30% of the properties or 30% of the units? The article is not clear. Given that a majority of the blocks in the vicinity already exceed this limit and that these units are grandfathered, I doubt it will have much impact beyond possibly stopping further conversions. I would suspect that there will be a legal challenge.

    There does not seem to be too much in the new ordinance, beyond limiting the number of unrelated people, that would have much impact on the problems student housing is having on the neighborhood. Typical problems of noise, property appearance, vandalism, parking, over-occupancy, and the like will not be addressed though this ordinance.

    From a demand perspective, what is the city or the university doing to provide alternative student housing? I have mentioned before that the most effective program I have seen is the one I put in place. (Sorry to brag. ) Allow developers to provide a better alternative, in larger complexes with better amentities and on-site management, and the demand for converted houses will go away. This is going to prompt the small-time landlords with run-down properties to sell, as they will not be able to find renters. A city could further induce this through inspection requirement, tenant education, and vigorous enforcement of good codes. Add in grants and loans to home buyers and owners converting properties back to ownership, and you could have an impact.
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