Archive for Thursday, September 22, 2011

Census numbers reveal Lawrence population is more dominated by renters; plus, more houses are sitting empty

September 22, 2011


It has been a decade of adding renters and adding empty houses in Lawrence.

New numbers were released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau that show a snapshot of the 2010 demographics of the city, and also provide a glimpse at how much the city’s housing market has changed.

Here’s a look at what the numbers, which are part of the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, say about everything from housing to health insurance to jobs:

• Lawrence’s population is becoming more dominated by renters. Lawrence, because of its large number of university students, long has had a higher percentage of renters than an average community. But the new numbers show that renters now make up 58.2 percent of the city’s total occupied households. That’s up from 54.1 percent in 2000, according to data from the 2000 Census. The influx of renters means that homeowners now make up 41.8 percent of the city’s total occupied households.

• Lawrence is adding renters faster than other places. During the last decade, Lawrence added renters at about five times the national average. Despite a decade of low interest rates, the percentage of renters in the U.S. as a whole did increase slightly, by 0.8 percent. But that was nothing compared with here. Lawrence’s share of renters grew by 4.1 percent during the decade.

• Renters may be part of the reason the city’s growth rate has slowed. The average size of a rental household in Lawrence is 1.94 people compared with 2.54 people in an owner-occupied household. What’s more, the average size of a rental household in Lawrence dropped significantly during the decade. The average size of a Lawrence rental household in 2000 was 2.07 people. That’s a drop of 6 percent. City leaders may pay more attention to those numbers as they try to determine why the Census Bureau’s population count for the city showed nearly 4,000 fewer people than what the city had estimated. The 2010 Census showed the last decade was Lawrence’s slowest in terms of population growth since the days of the Great Depression.

• Indeed, there are more empty houses these days. The number of vacant housing units in the city now stands at 7.1 percent. That’s up from 4.2 percent in 2000. Although it seems counter-intuitive, the Census Bureau says the homeowner vacancy rate — think of empty houses people are trying to sell — is much higher than the rental vacancy rate in Lawrence. The homeowner vacancy rate is listed at 8.1 percent. The rental vacancy rate is listed at 2.1 percent. That is almost exactly the inverse of how the national average breaks down. In total, the Census Bureau estimates there are about 2,700 vacant houses in Lawrence.

• Housing is taking a bigger bite out of the pocketbook. The number of homeowners in Lawrence who pay 35 percent or more of their monthly income on housing costs is now at 17.6 percent. That’s up from 11.7 percent in 2000. The Census Bureau now estimates the average monthly housing costs for a Lawrence homeowner — with a mortgage — is $1,413. The median rent in Lawrence is now $810 per month.

• Not all of our neighbors make more than we do. The median household income in Lawrence is $45,471. That figure counts everybody who earns any type of income. That’s far lower than in Johnson County, where the median household income is $60,483. But it is higher than in Topeka, where the median household income is $37,001. If keeping up with Willie the Wildcat matters to you, we’ve fallen behind there. The average household income for the Manhattan area is $46,150.

• Don’t get sick kids. Lawrence’s health insurance situation tracks pretty close to the national averages in most categories, except when it comes to children without health insurance. The percentage of children younger than 18 without health insurance is 11.5 percent. The national average is 8 percent. In total, the Census estimates there are 14,199 people in Lawrence without health insurance, or about 15.5 percent. That is also the national average. The bureau also estimates that 17.1 percent of people who are employed in Lawrence don’t have health insurance. The national average in that category is 18 percent.

The American Community Survey gathers its data from a continual set of surveys that it conducts in Lawrence and other cities and counties across the country. It uses the surveys to produce estimates that it releases once per year. The program took the place of the long-form questionnaire that the Census Bureau used to issue once every 10 years. The American Community Survey data is more timely than past Census data but generally has a higher margin of error because it relies on a smaller sample size.


consumer1 5 years ago

Duh,,,HIgher taxes spread amoung fewer homeowners, but the city keeps spending willie nillie. The library, these stupid special interest group projects. The amtrack station. etc etc. I would like to see a graphic showing east lawrence rentals vs. West lawrence rentals. excluding apartment buildings. My guess is the renters in east Lawrence are the squeaky wheels who are renters and spending the majority of city dollars on their special interest which they don't have to cough up money for??? Right Mainard Moody?

jafs 5 years ago

Landlords pass their property taxes on to their tenants - they don't pay it out of the goodness of their hearts.

gccs14r 5 years ago

Looks like the decades of giving the developers everything they want is catching up with us.

BruceWayne 5 years ago

100% correct but do not blame the developers. The two constants since the last numbers are Amyx and his puppet Core-less.

scaramouchepart2 5 years ago

According to many censuses and data reports the gluten of relators and banks over pricing in the recent past has forced the drop in homeownership.

"It's no mystery, of course, that homeownership should recede under a tidal wave of falling prices, foreclosures and the worst recession in decades."

Also in 2008 for the first time more people live in urban settings instead of rural.

So since we have more renters does the development community think they should build even more rental units despite the present rental units are beyond rental needs?

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years ago

You bet... and the city commission is more than willing to fund it/them.

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

By Kim McClure

July 24, 2009

To the editor:

The July 14 editorial asks, “What’s downtown going to look like five, 10 or 15 years from now?” The answer can be known, and the picture is not pretty.

Lawrence has enough spending to support about 4.1 million square feet of retail space, but the City Commission permitted developers to expand the supply to over 5.5 million square feet.

Lawrence has too much retail space chasing too few vendors, which means that many stores go empty, especially in the older shopping centers like downtown.

The surplus development has stalled redevelopment plans downtown and has pushed the vacancy rates so high that disinvestment and blight now threaten. Investment, both public and private, is wasted. The taxpayers’ $8 million parking garage stands largely empty. The Hobbs-Taylor building and the 600 block of Massachusetts should be the top performing spaces in the community, but they have significant vacancies.

The recession has contributed to the problem, but had we properly managed our growth we would be much better off.

The developers’ short-term gain is now our long-term loss. Managed growth would have prevented much of the problem and would have protected and enhanced our downtown.

It will take many, many years to absorb this surplus space and, until this happens, it will be hard for downtown to compete. We can only look forward to many years of high vacancy and disinvestment. We need a City Commission that knows how to pace the growth of supply so as to protect our unique downtown.

McClure is from Lawrence

Terry Sexton 5 years ago

That's not the way it works. Free enterprise is the way it works. Give the people what they want is the way it works. Freedom of choice along with freedom of competition. Downtown should compete on its own merits & do so on a level playing field. Ya pays your money & ya takes your chances. Don't tell me your gonna limit my idea just because yours needs fixing.

gccs14r 5 years ago

The other thing to keep in mind is who owns downtown property and what they charge for rent. There is incentive for the power brokers to run off all the "undesirable" merchants, then claim that they need a tax break to clean up their self-made blight.

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Basic findings:

  1. Lawrence is overbuilt in housing: Homes were built faster than popualtion growth supporting these homes. Excessive subdivisions caused an outmigration from older neighborhoods causing a severe loss of value, a loss of dwelling units, and a variety of other problems such as school closings.

  2. Lawerence is overbuilt in retail: Stores were built faster than retail spending growth supporting these stores. This excessive growth has hurt the public and private investment in downtown redevelopment (e.g.: the empty $8 million parking garage, the empty Hobbs-Taylor space, etc.) and has caused deterioration and blight in existing shopping centers (e.g.: Tanger Mall, Food-for-Less, etc.)

  3. Douglas County is overbuilt in manufacturing and warehousing; employment in these sectors is declining, not growing. Yet, the Chamber calls for more and more space in the false belief that more supply creates more demand.

Basic strategy:

Lawrence should adopt a policy of "cooling off" the pace of development. Note: This is not a moratoriam; it is a consicous effort to redirect growth to existing neighborhoods and districts where it can be beneficial.

Housing: The city should stop approving new subdivisions until the existing supply of surplus homes is eliminated. It should direct housing investment back into older neighborhoods so as to preserve and protect the existing public and private investment there.

Commercial space: The city should stop approving plans for new commercial space until the existing surplus is eliminated. It should direct investment into the preseration of the downtown and other existing commercial districts so as to preserve and protect the existing publid and private investment there.

Kirk McClure – Lawrence,Kansas

Education Ph. D., City Planning, University of California, Berkeley, Department of City and Regional Planning, 1985. Concentrations in Housing Economics and Public Finance.

Master in City Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, 1978. Specialization in Housing Policy Analysis.

Bachelor of Arts, University of Kansas, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 1974. Special Major in Urban Studies.

Bachelor of Architecture, Graduated With Distinction University of Kansas, School of Architecture and Urban Design, 1973.

Daniel Dicks 5 years ago

Definitely worthy of consideration even without the pedigree. Unfortunately it is amateur hour.

Flap Doodle 5 years ago

Still plugging McClure, merrill?

Daniel Speicher 5 years ago

I haven't really kept up with Merrill's posts on matters of this nature. But, if McClure's recommendations are always as clear, concise and common sense-based, I'm all for it! Seriously, what we are doing isn't working. I am a liberal and, with that, am for higher taxes on certain brackets. Having said that, especially in Lawrence, every bracket is stretched to its breaking point. If we keep pretending that nothing is wrong and keep on propogating the urban sprawl by building at the rate that we are (despite not having tenents for our current buildings), we are in for a particularly ugly and slum-ridden city.

lunacydetector 5 years ago

lawrence has gone down the road to ruin based on professor mcclure's recommendations. he went to m.i.t. and m.i.t.'s expertise is city planning in third world countries.....some expert!

Jimo 5 years ago

"But the new numbers show that renters now make up 58.2 percent of the city’s total occupied households."

How long until: Do you know that half the people in Lawrence don't even pay property taxes? And yet these moochers are allowed to vote! Whatever happened to the good old days when you couldn't vote unless you owned property (including other human beings) and were white, Christian, and male? Bring back the America of our God-appointed Founding Fathers!

jafs 5 years ago

Not far off, I'd say.

In fact. somebody commented the other day that only people who own property should be allowed to vote on issues that might raise property taxes.

dogsandcats 5 years ago

The landlord pays property tax on the properties but then passes that cost on to the tenant as a part of their rent So renters pay property taxes, just indirectly.

jlzack 5 years ago

I agree, plus what's paying personal property taxes have to do with voting?

jafs 5 years ago

The argument is that those who aren't affected by increases in property taxes shouldn't vote on issues involving them.

But, it's a very poor argument.

Jimo 5 years ago

"The median household income in Lawrence is $45,471. The average household income for the Manhattan metro area is $46,150."

It is important to note that this census data reflects earnings of people where they live, not where they earn the income.

Lawrence has quite a few people who earn incomes outside the city. Manhattan much less so.

John Hamm 5 years ago

And this is a big surprise to whom? The government juggles the figures so they can still call this a "recession" and the developers run roughshod over their cronies at City Hall to overdevelop the city.

Terry Sexton 5 years ago

as opposed to one person posting multiples ;-o)

true_patriot 5 years ago

I also saw a piece on the local news tonight about record numbers of Lawrence and Eudora families signing up for an Ekan free food program, including some families that have never had to go wait in line for a handout to be able to eat before.

I wonder why we are giving out investor and developer welfare for projects like the Compton-held Masonic Temple at 10th & Mass and potentially the new Compton investment vehicle being constructed at 9th and New Hampshire as well as newly proposed corporate welfare venture by the Lawrence Art Center at a time like this?

If families in our town are unable to put food on the table and the number of such families is increasing as hard times continue, how do we possibly justify giving taxpayer dollars to the wealthy instead of helping those Lawrencians who truly need the help?

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Free Enterprise eh?

Tell us how tax dollar subsidies make for free enterprise? or Free Market? Doesn't this equate to tax dollar moochers?

Liberty275 5 years ago

"Tell us how tax dollar subsidies make for free enterprise?"

I would think you might answer:

"people that use food stamps help the corner grocer stay in business."

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Why would Lowe's want to locate in a town with such high vacancies = stabbing taxpayers in the back and our wallets.

Why in the world do lending institutions continue to fund new bedrooms? Heck we thought the housing scam had been nipped in the bud.

Flap Doodle 5 years ago

"we"? You got a mouse in your pocket?

thewayitis 5 years ago

Jimo.. All residents pay property tax. It is embedded in the rent they pay to the landlord. Just because they don't pay it directly to the county doesn't mean that every square inch of private property is not taxed.

Keith 5 years ago

His sarcasm went undetected.

Liberty275 5 years ago

To be fair, it's harder to get a loan now. Some people just can't get a mortgage, so they have to rent. What really matters is the population delta. When it starts a decline, the problems (or solutions, depending on your ideals) really begin.

jayhawklawrence 5 years ago

I think there is something unethical about voting to approve property tax increases if you don't own a house.

I wonder if the thought ever occurs to people when we have elections?

gccs14r 5 years ago

Renters pay property tax. It's just not broken out separately when they mail in the check each month.

jafs 5 years ago

And commercial businesses pass their property taxes on to their customers as well.

Don Whiteley 5 years ago

Everyone in Lawrence knew that there were more homes sitting empty and existing homes were harder to sell with their prices constantly being driven downwards, everyone that is except the county assessors. They believe that across a two year period where housing prices in our area have been under constant downward pressure, our home has increaed in value or remained the same: conclusive proof that to the assessor, the actual value of your home has far less to do with its assessed value than the amount of taxes the city and the county want to impose on its residents.

Bill Lee 5 years ago

Another reason for the increase in rentals is the mobility of our population. As more people move in and out of town, many find it easier to rent if they don't plan to be long-term residents. I used to know people who had never traveled further from Lawrence than Kansas City. That's no longer true. Most of the people I now know here were born elsewhere, and I don't expect many of them to remain in Lawrence five years from now.

irvan moore 5 years ago

renters don't pay property taxes, homeowners do. property owners have made an investment in our community and bear the burden. seeing the stats on renters versus owners shows how badly we are being screwed here in lovely lawrence kansas.

WilburM 5 years ago

Of course renters pay property taxes. That's part of the rent, which has to be enough for property owners to pay the property tax bills that they receive. It's just hidden for renters, but it's certainly part of their monthly payments.

If you don't understand this basic fact, how can you possibly enter into any meaningful discussion of city policies and decision-making?

irvan moore 5 years ago

if i don't understand this basic fact? how pretentious

homechanger 5 years ago

Renters have no investment in the home they live in. They have a lease that ends in one year. They are then free to move on. Vote for a tax increase and they may never even see an increase in their rent before they move.

jafs 5 years ago

That's silly,

If property taxes go up, and they move, they'll see the increase in the next place they rent.

There may be an issue, though, involving the large transient population of students who only live here for short periods of time for the most part.

They certainly don't have the same perspective as long-term residents.

But, they bring a number of positives to the table as well.

jlzack 5 years ago

and just where do you think landlords get the money to pay those taxes? the tenants, think about it. If they weren't making money, they wouldn't be in the rental business.

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

"Indeed, there are more empty houses these days. The number of vacant housing units in the city now stands at 7.1 percent. That’s up from 4.2 percent in 2000. Although it seems counter-intuitive, the Census Bureau says the homeowner vacancy rate — think of empty houses people are trying to sell — is much higher than the rental vacancy rate in Lawrence. The homeowner vacancy rate is listed at 8.1 percent. The rental vacancy rate is listed at 2.1 percent. That is almost exactly the inverse of how the national average breaks down. In total, the Census Bureau estimates there are about 2,700 vacant houses in Lawrence. "

There are an estimated 2700 empty houses and who knows how many vacant rental units yet the large push for yet larger rental units in neighborhoods never stops. Even without a market to meet demand. Whoaaaaaaaaaaa = each new residential bedroom = a tax increase!

Our city's current budget crunch could easily be tied directly to infrastructure expenses needed to serve new housing developments. The community is way over extended in this regard.

If residential growth paid for itself and was financially positive, we would not be in a budget crunch. But with increased numbers of houses you have increased demand on services, and historically the funding of revenues generated by residential housing does not pay for the services, they require from a municipality.

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Inner urban sprawl is rightly scorned for many things: increasing taxes, destroying green space, increasing air and water pollution,increasing taxes, fracturing our neighborhoods and forcing us to drive gridlocked roads for every chore. But there is one consequence that usually goes unmentioned - inner urban sprawl is draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes.

Infill development has become inner urban sprawl = draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes.

Think about all of the above each time developers and their chief architect go before the city commission and declares a need for 64 bedroom apartment buildings filled with college students or a 128 bedroom apartment building fill with college students. The icing on the cake developers are being allowed to construct these inner urban housing monsters with NOT ENOUGH off street parking. Kinda like at 9th and New Hampshire.

AGAIN infill development has become inner urban sprawl = draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes.

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

I forgot one comment. New retailers such as Lowe's are getting duped by this appearance of rooftops those which are so empty which in a way = fraud.

whatupdown 5 years ago

Next time you hear ; "Classrooms For Learning", think about it....building permits.

sherbert 5 years ago

Most of the people I know who were employed in the housing business, and think about who all this includes, are now severely Under Employed. This means they are not able to purchase the homes they thought they would, many losing the homes they had, and not spending dollars on cars, restaurants, movies, clothing stores, dentists, vets, doctors etc.... Most of them are not even counted in the Unemployed status because they're scraping along trying to keep working. The job market is much worse than the government stats show and this trickles down to everyone of us.

kernal 5 years ago

Axe the new apartment building request by the Johnson County developers on the far west side of Lawrence. Why? First, they will be using their workers, not Lawrence construction workers and two, the building will be owned by outside investors with no ties to our community. If times get worse, which is still a strong possibility, out of town investors may have to bail if they can't rent that complex. I just hope whoever the developer's lender is has done the homework and realizes Lawrence is overbuilt.

Also, shelve the Library expansion. Some of us are stretched beyond the limit now and if Lawrence keeps up the bad decisions costing homeowners and tax payers more money than other nearby communities, don't expect us to stay much longer. Lawrence is no longer that attractive to many of us.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years ago

I fully agree. I too, am looking to relocate from this community that has very little compassion for the taxpayer.

One rule of business is to only do business with those who want to do business with you. This includes those who have the ability to pay their bills. Lawrence caters to much to those who can't pay their bills by funding all the services they need on the backs of the taxpayers, while at the same time using elements of misdirection to get these programs in place.

Business won't locate here due to idiotic rules and idiots selective enforcement of those rules. Spend all that money of the Farmland site, and the opponents of K10 are blocking the roads it needs to become an employment site. This town just keeps throwing good money after bad. The bus system is a dismal $4 million dollar a year failure, as will be the Library, the Community Theatre, and all the new apartments that are going up.

Add to that, the over taxation of the citizens, it is not hard to understand why many choose to leave, which leaves those who can't or won't pay their bills.

jamoca 5 years ago

There's very few job opportunities in Lawrence. People go to KC or Topeka for those. Lawrence doesn't have a tax hike it hasn't loved. The homes in Lawrence are typically more expensive than in other cities around the KC metro. Plus we have a down economy and housing market thanks to Hope and Change ;)

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this one out.

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Lawrence Taxpaying Voters should weed out the city hall “Free Lunch” programs. The heart of the wealth transfer. Schools, parks, recreation programs, and libraries are starved. City government would be far better served putting the money in upgrades to local downtown mom and pop businesses.

"Free Lunch" programs could be Tax Increment Financing,Tax abatements,Tax Rebates. Tax dollar money losers for sure.

lunacydetector 5 years ago

like zero property taxes if you put your business on k.u. owned property, which i'm sure you don't have a's called convoluted logic.

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Local movers and shakers is the reason for inflated Lawrence,Kansas cost of living thus higher taxes....

"Plus we have a down economy and housing market thanks to Hope and Change ;)"

Better yet thanks to:

The RINO Plaftorm Written In Stone:

The RINO party has a long history of economic destruction and crime to include Iran-Contra and Watergate. Like or not a consistent and disturbing pattern has developed by their choosing.

STOP electing RINO’s !

After spending so so many decades in Washington D.C on tax dollar payrolls RINO’s are sure they learned all they needed to know about OUR money and founding reckless economies. RINO’s have much experience under their belts that they never quit sharing.

Introducing the RINO Economic Platform Written In Stone:

  1. TABOR is Coming by Grover Norquist and Koch Bros sells out state governments, public schools,SRS services etc etc to private industry = Grab Your Wallets!

  1. The Reagan/Bush Savings and under Bush/Cheney sent the economy out the window costing taxpayers many many $$ Loan Heist(Cost taxpayers $1.4 trillion), millions of jobs.loss of retirement plans and loss of medical insurance.

  2. Wall Street Bank Fraud on Consumers $ trillions, millions of jobs, loss of retirement plans and loss of medical insurance.

  3. ONLY 3 financial institutions instead of several were at risk so why $700 billion in bail out money? One of the biggest lies perpetrated to Amercan citizens

Tax cuts which do nothing to make an economy strong or produce jobs. Tax cuts are a tax increase to others in order to make up the loss in revenue = duped again.

  1. Still A Bad Idea – Bush Tax Cuts - The ENTITLEMENT program for the wealthy at the expense of the middle class = duped one more time.

In the end big debt and super duper bailouts were the results which does not seem to bother Republicans, as long as they are in power.

In fact, by the time the second Bush left office, the national debt had grown to $12.1 trillion:

  • Over half of that amount had been created by Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy.

  • Another 30% of the national debt had been created by the tax cuts for the wealthy under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

• Fully 81% of the national debt was created by just these three Republican Presidents.

Flap Doodle 5 years ago

merrill, please do some research on Lightsquared, Solyndra and GunWalker. Get back with us when you have some current material.

Kontum1972 5 years ago

9-11 the boo-boo

3-11 the musical group 3-11 the former bar in SE,ks.

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