Northern Michigan University study shows housing rental costs increasing across Upper Michigan

The college’s Rural Insights Institute confirms that rental apartments and houses in Marquette, Houghton, Chippewa, and Delta Counties have gone up between 2010 and 2021.
The college’s Rural Insights Institute confirms that rental apartments and houses in the Western U.P. have gone up over the last ten years.
Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 7:24 PM EST
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Western U.P., Mich. (WLUC) - A recent study by a Northern Michigan University student and professor confirms that housing rental costs have been steadily increasing across Upper Michigan over the past decade.

On average, housing prices across the U.S. have gone up around 7% every year since 2014, and it’s no secret that the U.P. has seen the same upward trend.

A recent study by Dr. Weronika Kusek and Max Steele of Northern Michigan University’s Rural Insights Institute highlights the specifics of this issue in Marquette, Houghton, Chippewa, and Delta Counties using data from 2010 to 2021. “We have an affordable housing shortage and we’ve heard it over and over, so we decided [to] take a look at the data behind that,’” Rural Insights Institute Editor and Director David Haynes said.

This study confirms that housing rental costs increased by 2.19% every year in all four counties except Delta between 2010 and 2021. “I’d say Marquette and Houghton Counties were probably the most affected, and out of the individual cities in the U.P., I’d probably say Marquette and Houghton [are the most affected],” Rural Insights Institute Student Researcher Max Steele said.

In that 11 year period, the median rental price for apartment and house rentals in Marquette County has increased by 50%.

Since 2013, all counties involved in the study have seen an average property value increase of 53%, something Steele thinks may deter people from moving to the U.P. “You might think twice about coming to the U.P. when you have a job [or] when you come to school,” Steele said.

The study could not determine every cause behind these increases. However, the study does show that the cost of housing is exceeding wages for many in the four counties. “The model for decades has been that your housing costs should try to fit within 25% of your income,” Director Haynes said “That number is not real anymore, housing is just so expensive.”

Haynes says no future long-term solutions for the affordable housing shortage have been confirmed by any of the study’s four counties. But Haynes and Steele say the purpose of this study is to provide local governments with data to help them solve this issue.

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