they have kids — choose to live in walkable urban neighborhoods filled with missing middle housing types, said
Jim Tischler, director of community development for
the Michigan State Housing Development Authority
(MSHDA). What’s more, they don’t move with jobs in
hand. They go because it’s where they want to live and
they look for work later. “That is a marked difference
from the last 75 years,” Tischler said.
Message sent. Message received. “We have to change the
mix of housing stock in our neighborhoods and communities ... because that is a significant talent and retention
tool for economic development,” Tischler said.
The state is now helping cities analyze the supply and
demand for middle missing housing in their markets.
Results from the 60 urban markets analyzed so far reveal
a nearly 600,000 unit undersupply of missing middle housing and a nearly 600,000 unit oversupply of
detached single-family homes and two-family duplexes.
Kalamazoo’s market analysis “opened our eyes,” said
Rebekah Kik, city planner. “We always thought, ‘Here’s
what we’ve got. Come and get it.’” Kalamazoo’s primary
walkable urban housing choices are expensive downtown lofts and historic homes that are large and costly
to maintain. “There’s value in what we have, but it’s not
what the people on the move want,” Kik said.
To meet the projected demand for 1,400 new urban
housing units over the next five years, the city is in the
process of replacing its density-based zoning code with
a form-based code that will allow wider development of
missing middle housing.
Many potential sites are ready and waiting because Kalamazoo previously demolished numerous units of neglected
and abandoned housing in anticipation of future redevelopment. Kik envisions scenarios where eight row
houses sit on the same land where just two single-family
To win the community over, the city is showing residents examples of missing middle housing from a
design contest sponsored by the MSHDA and others.
“When we go out to community meetings, residents are so
excited,” Kik said. “They want to know when is this coming?
Where is it going?”
Many see missing middle housing as an option to age
and downsize without leaving the block. “To me, that is
one of the best outcomes of missing middle housing —
that people can stay in the neighborhood they put down
roots in,” Kik said.
Brad Broberg is a Seattle-based freelance writer
specializing in business and development issues.
His work appears regularly in the Puget Sound
Business Journal and the Seattle Daily Journal
Many see missing middle
housing as an option to age
without leaving the block.
Courtesy of Michigan Municipal League/ mml.org
Courtesy of The Cottage Company