Invest Hamilton County

Memos From Mike

Housing, Homes and Hopes
June 15, 2022

Housing, Homes and Hopes

My internal monologue on housing often serves as a lesson on the conflicting nature of self-perspective. I live in a beautiful home in Carmel that I love with my wife and two girls (and two cats) and the recent increase in home values has been (and likely will continue to be) a great thing for our family. I’ve also been homeless for months of my life… and recognize if I’d lived here during those most difficult periods life would have been hard. Even in early recovery (which I found while a resident in our community), today’s skyrocketing rents would have shifted me out of the market instead of providing me an amazing community in which to grow new roots.

Most people living in our community likely have a love/hate relationship with our current housing market. If you like the home you’re in now (and own it) the rise in home values feels great on the household balance sheet (even more so the longer you’ve lived in that home). But for those people who are looking to move, paying skyrocketing rents, or have friends/family looking to move the market of the past year has been an intense, stressful and expensive adventure. Many new buyers have still successfully navigated that landscape and found great homes in Hamilton County.

Within this health though is a story of loss. Many people who were able to move into our community in the past are now no longer able to. I look around my 1970s neighborhood in Carmel and love the socio-economic diversity present. Just 20 years ago home here were worth about $200,000 less than they are today and people looking to connect with good schools in a growing and safe community could choose to do so when making area median income.

I feel the NIMBY portions of our population lose perspective that their neighbors of today would, in many cases, not be able to move into that same house tomorrow. Today, especially when factoring in the costs of childcare, many of our communities have become less and less affordable to even those households making 100% of our median income, let alone those who truly are struggling to make ends meet or find new opportunity.

2022 Hamilton County Housing Study

I was grateful to be asked to moderate a panel at the HAND Suburban Housing Conference in May. During the panel, and the study presentation beforehand, everyone present was able to view the report above and learn about how Hamilton County is becoming less affordable to people throughout our market.

A rise in interest rates has some concerned. I, personally and professionally, don’t believe that our destination market will see a decline in values. Hopefully what we will see though is a moderation in the increases in value we’ve seen over the past year as demand slightly cools. Our high quality schools, infrastructure, comparatively low taxes, thriving job market, and high quality of life are what make us a destination and all will theoretically work together to insulate current residents from any broader market downshifts. Combined with a continued emphasis on development the supply and demand tensions of our market will see some relief.

All these things that make our community great take people to function. From bus drivers to child care workers to waiters and waitresses they all present large demographics of job growth within our community that we all need to thrive. They also all face extraordinary difficulty finding a way to call this community home. In 2021 there were over 60,000 open positions Hamilton County paying a median salary of around $35,000 per year.

This issue has no easy solutions, and a tragedy of the commons dynamic that can easily lead to defeatism. This is also a community that loves to get things done and tackle big problems. I encourage everyone to read the report above, ask good questions, and engage.