Housing Stock – Lets get depressing :P

In my previous post I took my dog for a walk and we had a wonderful time wandering my neighbourhood and seeing looking the state of house. At this point, we have to take a step back and look at the City as a whole. On Saturday night I tweeted out the first piece of data from this post I traded tweets with a nice fellow from Alberta:

Before we get into the sprawl discussion we have to look at the state of Windsor’s housing stock.

What is “Housing Stock”?

Across Windsor, there are beautiful homes that are lovingly maintained by their owners that being said there are many other homes that are less well maintained or appraised. When the term Housing Stock is used it is referring to dwellings within a community at macro level, little boxes on a hill side, not individual homes, street or even neighbourhood. This definition is also not exclusive to detached homes, when referring to dwelling or housing stock it includes apartments, condos, townhouses, row houses, cottages pretty much anywhere with a permanent address that people live in a permanent basis.[1]

Speaking about housing on a macro level is important is due to broader conversations that is needed in our community. Due to the unique geography of Windsor-Essex County you can’t talk about Windsor in isolation from the rest of the region and as a result Windsor’s Housing Stock not only needs to compete with but be a superior value to the rest of the region in order to help attract talent and investment to the city. Attracting talent is a complex situation numerous factors interacting to determine where individuals settle but Windsor is the location of majority of the jobs in the region meaning that it is a location of destination for most people on a daily basis. If the housing stock in a particularly neighbourhood or area close to work do not align with consumer preference or offer sufficient value than other options will be explored.

Given that Windsor CMA is home to some of the shortest commuting times in Canada, selecting a home outside of the city or at its fringes carries fewer negative consequences compared to other communities.[2] For many, a house is the most important purchase/investment that an individual or family will make and if a house in the city cannot provide comparative material and marginal value to owners when held up to a suburban location they will select the suburbs.

 Age of Housing Stock

The state of Windsor’s housing stock can be summed up in the following phrase: Generally speaking the homes in central Windsor –are smaller, less expensive and older than homes of the surrounding suburbs and in the rest of the county. Due to the developed nature of the City of Windsor and the natural geographic disadvantage that it faces from the border blocking development in a northern direction, has naturally resulted in new constructions gravitating towards suburban fringes and neighbouring municipalities around the city.

Table 1: Percentages of occupied private dwellings by period of construction[3]

Windsor Windsor Core Tecumseh LaSalle Lakeshore Amherstburg Essex Kingsville Leamington
1960 or before 44% 61% 19% 15% 22% 28% 35% 33% 35%
1961 to 1980 28% 26% 24% 23% 27% 30% 31% 29% 27%
1981 to 1990 7% 11% 22% 14% 10% 12% 12% 8% 12%
1991 to 2000 12% 4% 27% 30% 17% 17% 14% 15% 16%
2001 to 2005 7% 1% 7% 13% 17% 9% 5% 9% 7%
2006 to 2011 2% 0% 2% 5% 6% 4% 3% 5% 3%

As the table [4] above illustrates with greater than 1 in 3 dwellings in the City of Windsor been built before 1960, which translates into 38,315 dwellings, it places the city in a challenging position. This isn’t to say that every old dwelling are poor quality homes to live in or that they can’t it be a part of a revitalization. The various historical “districts” on Victoria Ave, Sandwich Towne and Old Walkerville do represent an important part of our community’s history but dwellings in these areas only represent 4,435 or less than 1 in 5 dwellings in the City core. This number likely skews to the high side as the census tracts are larger than then what most people would define as the heritage areas of these neighbourhoods and likely include types of homes that are not what you would equate with stately historic homes.

Outside of the historic neighbourhood and unless the older home is a historic design, many of the older homes in Windsor’s core are generally smaller in size, on a smaller lot, less likely to be aligned with modern preferences and as a result are not in a position where substantial appreciation of property values is likely to occur.[5] This does not negate historic housing stock from playing a key role in a revitalization, but efforts to revive large swaths of the city will need to extend beyond the minority of housing stock that classifies as historic.

When you focus on the Windsor’s core the percentage of old stock (Pre-1960) is 61%, representing 23,360 dwellings (of 38,420). To put it another way, City of Windsor nearly has more dwellings built before the 1960s than the two-thirds of all the homes in the rest of the CMA (towns of Tecumseh, LaSalle, Amherstburg and Lakeshore with 39,045 dwellings).This aged housing stock in the city core leads to a number of disconnects when attempting to attract people and developers to Windsor’s centre. With the core construction only growing by 5% since 2000, the age of the existing stock shows, as there are few new buildings with built in modern amenities being built to entice people to stay in that part of the city.

Types of Housing Stock

Windsor is by far the largest and most dense area of housing in the region, this is largely stating the obvious but the exact make up of that stock is important. When looking at our communities, single detached homes are the dominant form of habitation, for those desiring a more urbanist lifestyle this presents an immediate road block.

Table 2: Housing Stock by Type by Community[6]

Type of Dwelling Windsor Total Windsor Core Tecumseh LaSalle Lakeshore Amherstburg Essex Kingsville Leamington
Single-detached house 54,615 (62.2%) 21,955 (52.5%) 7,110 (82.1%) 8,615 (87.0%) 11,340 (92.0%) 6,915

(85.1%)

6,640 (85.2%) 6,625 (85.9%) 6,615

(67.1%)

Apartment; building that has five or more stories 11,525 (13.12%) 7,735 (18.50%) 420 (4.85%) 115 (1.16%) 0 (0%) 895

(9.07%)

730 (9.36%) 1,060 (13.74%) 2,715 (27.52%)
   Movable dwelling 15 (<0.00%) 0 0 0 235 (0.02%) 0 375 (0.05) 30 (<0.00%) 15 (<0.00%)
Semi-detached house 3,945 (4.49%) 940 (2.25%) 455 (5.26%) 565 (5.71%) 235 (1.91%) 110 65 (0.385) 200 (2.59%) 855 (8.67%)
Row houses 5,420 (6.17%) 1,945 (4.65%) 445 (5.14%) 135 (1.36%) 270 (2.19%) 330 (4.06%) 265 (3.40%) 410 (5.31%) 680 (6.89%)
Apartment; duplex 3,260 (3.71%) 2,750 (6.58%) 60 (0.69%) 50 (0.51%) 60 (0.49%) 85 (1.05%) 65 (0.83%) 80 (1.04%) 295 (2.99%)
Apartment; building that has fewer than five stories 8,920 (10.16%) 6,340 (15.17%) 160 (1.85%) 410 (4.14%) 180 (1.46%) 350 (4.31%) 325 (4.17%) 355 (4.60%) 865 (8.77%)
Total Dwellings                           87,830                              41,800                        8,655                      9,900                    12,330                             8,125                         7,795                     7,715                        9,865

In parsing Windsor and looking into the core it is home to the bulk of the high rise apartment stock (7,725 of 11,525); duplex apartments (2,750 of 3,260) and low rise apartment units (6,340 of 8,920) are in the core. At the same time, 21,955 of 54,615 of single detached homes are found within Windsor Core which is a sign of the suburban lifestyles that have taken root in our region.

Row houses and semi-detached homes are actually under represented across most of the region, with LaSalle being the only community that exceed the national average. Unfortunately for urbanists, much of that development is coming from new “sprawling neighbourhoods” that are being built on the fringes of Windsor.

When you compare local housing breakdown to the Canadian average and other communities in Ontario you can see the skewed nature of Windsor’s housing market.

Table 3: Housing Stock by Type Compared to Areas outside of Windsor Essex[7]

Windsor (city) Canada Average Hamilton London Kingston Kitchener Waterloo
Single-detached house 62% 55% 58% 51% 50% 50% 58%
Apartment, building that has five or more storeys 13% 9% 16% 20% 15% 14% 11%
Movable dwelling 0% 1% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
Semi-detached house 4% 5% 3% 4% 8% 6% 5%
Row house 6% 6% 11% 12% 7% 11% 12%
Apartment, duplex 4% 5% 3% 3% 4% 3% 2%
Apartment, building that has fewer than five storeys 10% 18% 9% 10% 17% 15% 11%

 Windsor finds itself certainly 7% more single detached homes and 8% less low rise apartments compared to national averages. The national measure for high rise apartments is skewed downwards in that they are predominantly found in cities but when compared to other communities Windsor lags behind many of them.  

If you add in what other groups and Statistics Canada call the “urban area of Windsor” which is represented by the CMA percentage of single detached homes skyrocket.

Total number of occupied private dwellings by structural type of dwelling Windsor CMA
Single-detached house 70%
Apartment, building that has five or more storeys 10%
Movable dwelling 0%
Semi-detached house 4%
Row house 5%
Apartment, duplex 3%
Apartment, building that has fewer than five storeys 8%
Other single-attached house 0%

When Councilor John Elliot in a recent City Council meeting said “sprawl is our future” in response to a discussion around the issue related to a proposed new hospital development.[8] Whether he knew it or not he was right, sprawl is our future because it is our past and present.

The fact of the matter is that this isn’t a problem that will be easily fixed, if it can be in the near term, particularly when you start looking at peoples housing preferences and broader geographic considerations.

Hi Human, I want to walk now!

Hi Human, I want to go for a walk now!

Citations 

[1] Statistics Canada. Structural Types of Dwellings and Collectives. Retrieved from https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/ref/guides/98-313-x/98-313-x2011001-eng.cfm

[2] Statistics Canada. (2015) Commuting to Work. The National Household Survey. Retrieved from http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/nhs-enm/2011/as-sa/99-012-x/99-012-x2011003_1-eng.pdf

[3] Statistics Canada. (2011) Census of Canada. Retrieved from http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/dp-pd/index-eng.cfm

[4] NOTE about data: All of the above data is taken from community census profiles. For the Windsor CMA an additional extraction was made at a Census Tract Level. The “Core” is defined by extracting separating all Census Tracts that run from Sandwich Town to Lauzon Parkway, North of Tecumseh Road with the exception of some minor overlapping areas beyond that boundary. 4 Census Tracts due to poor response had their data suppressed by Statistics Canada.

[5] Grace Macaluso (2016) Housing boom should last two more years, says real estate board. Windsor Star.  http://windsorstar.com/business/local-business/housing-boom-should-last-two-more-years-says-real-estate-board

[6] Statistics Canada. (2011) Census of Canada. Retrieved from http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/dp-pd/index-eng.cfm

[7] Statistics Canada. (2011) Census of Canada. Retrieved from http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/dp-pd/index-eng.cfm

[8] Jon Liedtke (2016) OPINION: THE MEGA-HOSPITAL HAS POTENTIAL TO UNITE OUR REGION. Windsor Independent. http://www.windsorindependent.com/culture/opinion-mega-hospital-windsor/

4 thoughts on “Housing Stock – Lets get depressing :P

  1. I hear you but how come no one is interested in being by the river. If I was wealthy I would by 2 smaller homes side by side and tear them down and build my new home. Also too I believe we stem from a lunch bucket mentality that tries to keep up with the Jones and follows the crowd. There is so much the core has to offer as opposed to as opposed to Essex or Lasalle. The culture with its vast history is close to the river, not out in the farmfields with the cookie cutter houses and big box concrete parking lots.

  2. Hi Caroline thanks for the comment. True Riverfront property is relatively rare in Windsor. Much of it is spoken for already and already has large homes built upon it. Much of the other property is then situated on the South side of riverside drive denying waterfront access that is in many ways the item of true value from a property standpoint. Being on the south side of riverside drive takes away any privacy when viewing the river as your front yard would face a major thoroughfare and then face a public park in many cases. Much of the currently vacant land available is held by speculators and the route that your propose although possible, is costly ($100,000+ more) and would add months if not years to navigate the city permitting and property merging bylaws. Far cheap and more private to go build on the water in Lakeshore or Amherstburg or on the South shore.

    I will delve into your other comments as to why things are occurring in subsequent posts to this one but my short responses is that your preferences for location are probably not shared by a majority of home buyers.

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