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Main Spotlight: A New Report on the State of Housing


May 11, 2022 | Main Spotlight: A New Report on the State of Housing | By: Michael Powe, Ph.D., Director of Research, and Emi Morita, Research Analyst | 

In cities big and small across the United States, concerns about the supply and cost of housing are widespread. Main Street communities are no exception. Housing challenges are clearly on the minds of Main Street practitioners. At the virtual Main Street Now conference last year, the topic of housing repeatedly emerged in a variety of sessions, and in a recent survey conducted by Main Street America, 87 percent of Main Street managers indicated concern about the state of housing in their Main Street districts. But how could the housing circumstances of Main Street districts be improved?

With the generous support of the 1772 Foundation, Main Street America’s Research team recently launched the “At Home on Main Street” project, a four-part housing research initiative that aims to provide action-oriented recommendations and support the network in strengthening Main Streets through thoughtful housing development.

Today, we’re excited to share the first major release from this effort: a data-centric report on the state of housing in Main Street districts. The report, titled At Home on Main Street: A Report on the State of Housing in Downtown and Neighborhood Commercial Districts, includes insights from Main Street leaders and Main Street-oriented housing developers who recently participated in a virtual convening on this topic. It also includes analysis of brand-new census data focused on housing density, vacancy, age, cost, and more.



There will be more to come from this research initiative, including a series of case studies on promising solutions to the housing challenges and barriers to housing development that Main Street leaders describe seeing in their communities. Also forthcoming is an online self-auditing tool where Main Street managers and city officials can look up housing data on their communities, see how their communities’ housing circumstances compare with those of their surrounding areas, and get direction on potential solutions that may be helpful in supporting an improved state of housing where they are.

We’ll be discussing all of this and more at the Main Street Now Conference in Richmond next week, starting off with a 75-minute session on Monday morning at 10:45am. In Monday’s “At Home on Main Street” session, Mike Powe will discuss the housing data featured in the report and facilitate a discussion with attendees about how Main Street leaders can help close the gap between their current housing realities and the brighter housing futures that are within reach.

Other standout housing-focused sessions at Main Street Now will include: