Utica Housing Study

ABOUT THE PROJECT

Utica's population has been growing for two straight decades, downtown revitalization is gaining momentum, and economic development in the region is on the upswing with impressive levels of new investment. But is the city prepared to meet the housing needs of the coming decade? And is it prepared to attract and retain new households to support the region's workforce needs and the city's own tax base?

To address these questions, the City of Utica has commissioned czbLLC a national planning and housing consultancyto analyze housing conditions and trends in Utica, define unmet housing needs, and identify feasible strategies to support a stronger and healthier housing market.

The Utica Housing Study commenced in February 2022 and will be completed in June 2022.

Utica Housing Study Online Open House

Tell us what you think!

This Online Open House is an opportunity for the public to learn about key housing issues that have been identified so far, and to provide input on questions of strategy and prioritization that face Utica and many cities with a similar background.

Input from this Open House will be used by the project partners (City staff and the consultants) to inform the development of policy guidance and strategies. Public feedback will be accepted through May 31st.

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Get started!

STEP 1

Begin by reviewing the broad housing issues below that have been identified during the first stages of analysis.

STEP 2

Go to the Utica Housing Study Survey and answer a series of questions that will take no more than five minutes to answer.

STEP 1 - Review the broad housing issues below

Housing Issues in Utica Today

Utica is a growing city with many charming residential neighborhoods framed by Olmsted-designed parks and a growing number of downtown housing options in historic buildings. At the same time, there are several long-standing issues that need to be addressed to make the city’s housing more responsive to the needs and preferences of households in the 2020s and beyond.

To date, this project has identified four broad issues that require particular attention.

Disrepair and disinvestment in existing housing

Deferred maintenance is visible to some degree in almost every Utica neighborhood. To a large extent, this is a reflection of decades of disinvestment in a city housing market that experienced a 40% drop in population between 1960 and 2000. Even today, rents are generally much lower than they need to be to support healthy levels of reinvestment in rental properties by landlords. And home values are generally lower than they need to be for homeowners to feel confident about making major updates to outdated properties and getting their money back.

The financial inability of low-income homeowners to invest in needed home repairs is also a factor. And the scale of the problem has contributed to code enforcement activities that are often more reactive than proactive.

High levels of cost-burdened households

35% of all households in Utica are considered "cost-burdened," which means that they spend 30% or more of their monthly incomes on housing costs. Renters make up 71% of these cost-burdened households.

Cost burdens in Utica, however, are not the result of unusually high housing prices. They are, instead, a reflection of low-incomes. 85% of all cost-burdened households earn less than $35,000 per year, and there are not enough income-restricted housing units to serve more than a fraction of these households.

Limited supply of attractive new housing

Out of the more than 22,000 occupied housing units in Utica, just over 400 (1.8%) are in structures that have been built since 2000. And less than half of those have been built since 2010.

The same market forces that limit investment in the maintenance and improvement of existing housing also limit the production of new housing for middle and upper income households. Prevailing home prices and rents, though rising in recent years, are still much lower than what it actually costs for the private sector to produce new housing. Unsubsidized rentals require rents of $2,000 per month or more, and a new 2,000 square foot home of above-average construction quality requires an asking price of at least $325,000.

Challenges to neighborhood quality of life

Although Utica's financial bill of health has improved in recent years, the City still has less to spend each year on basic infrastructure and services than would be needed to resolve decades of underinvestment in streets, lighting, public spaces, public safety, and other key contributors to neighborhood quality of life.

When public infrastructure and services in a neighborhood are subpar, confidence in the future of the neighborhood (by current or potential residents) suffers, as does the willingness of residents to invest time and energy into their homes and into neighborhood relationships.

Data Sources and Notes: American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates (2016-2020); City of Utica building permit and code violation records; czbLLC analysis of prevailing construction and financing costs in the Mohawk Valley and Central New York applied to the construction of a 2,200 square foot single-family house of average quality and new 2 bedroom / 2 bathroom apartments of average quality
















STEP 2 - Ready to answer a series of questions?

Begin the Open House Survey now!