Housing Studies/Historical Context


Beginning in the early 1990s, the City of East Lansing sponsored a series of studies of the City’s housing market. These studies ranged from targeted analyses of the types of homes and housing tenure available to city residents, the demand for various types of housing as well as the impact of City policies on its housing market. The final reports have been compiled and made available below in order to better frame the conversation around East Lansing’s housing stock and better inform the most recent market study. It's the City's hope that this will spur a vibrant discussion about the City’s housing needs which will ultimately inform the path or paths the City should take moving forward.

Senior Housing Survey 2014

This report was based on a senior survey and two community forums conducted in 2013 by the Friends of the East Lansing Seniors Program, the Prime Time Seniors Program and the City of East Lansing with the intention gaining a clearer sense of the housing needs of seniors living in or desiring to live in the City. The survey addressed issues such as housing design and accessibility, affordability and location. The survey and forums found that many senior residents would like to live either downtown or close to campus. View the 2014 Senior Housing Survey (PDF).

Regional Housing Studies, 2013-2014

In 2013 and 2014, two separate studies were published that looked at housing from a regional, not just local, perspective. The first of these studies, published in 2013, took a corridor-based approach as it examined the state of housing markets along Michigan Avenue and Grand River Avenue, from Lansing to the eastern edge of Ingham County. The second study, published the following year, was a HUD study focused on the need for affordable housing as represented by 20 communities located throughout the Tri-County region comprising Ingham, Eaton and Clinton Counties.  The reports have been posted in their entirety below:

Overlay Districts Summary - October 2010

In January 2010, the Rental Restriction Overlay District Committee was formed to study the impact of the overlay zones that had been implemented in various part of the City from 2004 to 2006. Specifically, the Committee was tasked with determining what effect, if any, the overlays had on the local real estate market, and more specifically on housing affordability, foreclosure rate, home prices, and the number of vacant homes.  

2003 Housing Needs Assessment

The 2003 Housing Needs Assessment, conducted by Community Research Group, or CRG, focused on the housing affordability challenges in East Lansing. CRG used a combination of focus groups and telephone surveys in addition to data analysis to develop an overall picture of housing needs throughout the City. Their recommendations included the following:

  1. Develop financial and regulatory incentives for the development of affordable units in new multifamily developments.
  2. Explore the possibility of long-term affordable homeownership models such as income- restricted homes, community land trusts, and limited equity cooperatives.
  3. Expand upon the City’s existing housing rehabilitation programs.
  4. Develop new owner-occupied, rental, and special needs housing in the style of existing R-2 and R-1 homes.

Multi-Family Housing Study - March 2001

This study, conducted by the Troy-based Consulting firm The Green Group, focused on the existing capacity of the downtown to support- and potential demand for - downtown multi-family housing.  The study determined that there was an unmet demand for “urban lifestyle” living in our downtown, and it recommended that the City focus its efforts on developing an owner-occupied housing stock attractive to the area’s single young professionals.

Neighborhood Stabilization Task Force - May 1996

In January 1996, the City Council established a Neighborhood Stabilization Task Force with the purpose of reviewing the recommendations made in the 1994 report and developing an action plan and implementation schedule for them as needed.  Their report, published in May of the same year, reviewed the progress made on 10 different issue areas outlined in the 1994 report. Among the various observations made by the NSTF, arguably the most important was the observation that many of the areas formerly zoned RM-32 had actually been downzoned to R-3, rather than to “RM-T”, or the medium density multi-family district recommended by the 1994 report. Furthermore, the NSTF recommended that said downzoned areas remain R-3, and not be “upzoned” to the proposed higher density RM-T.

Task Force on Neighborhood Density Study - February 1994

In August 1992, the City Council appointed a Task force on Neighborhood Density, with the purpose of analyzing and providing potential solutions for perceived conflicting residential uses in and around the city’s downtown. The Task Force’s final report made over 25 separate recommendations focused on three primary areas:

  1. Zoning
  2. Code Enforcement
  3. Parking

Among its many recommendations, the 1994 report recommended reducing the footprint of the RM-32 District (high density multi-family) and bringing the current regulations into alignment with the (then newly created) Historic Districts. It also recommended the creation of a “Medium Density Multi-Family District” that would require lower density development in areas then zoned RM-32. For the R-3, R-2, and R-1 districts, the Task Force recommended decreasing parking requirements and enacting legislation that would prevent the conversion of common areas such as living rooms into additional sleeping units.