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Housing in Lancaster City

On Tuesday, October 22, Zimmerman/Volk Associates presented its findings in the Lancaster Country Housing Market Analysis to the Lancaster County Housing Summit at the Double Tree Resort in Willow Street. We read all 850 pages so you won't have to.

What we found of their findings:

- Surprisingly, at 5.06 dwelling units per acre of land, the City of Lancaster is not the most dense of the 60 municipalities; Ephrata Borough has the highest gross density in the county at 6.13 dwelling units per acre.

- Of Lancaster County's estimated 206,952 housing units in 2013, 95 percent are occupied...The City of Lancaster's seven percent vacancy rate is not the highest among all municipalities; at 10 percent, Fulton Township, in the rural grouping, has the highest municipal vacancy rate, and three boroughs have vacancy rates higher than or equal to the city's: Columbia Borough at eight percent, and Adamstown and Marietta Boroughs at seven percent each.

- Lancaster County's 68 percent homeownership rate is slightly lower than Pennsylvania's 70 percent, but higher than the nation's 65 percent. The City of Lancaster has the lowest homeownership rate in the county at 44 percent, which is a rate comparable to or even higher than the homeownership rate in most cities in America.

- The City of Lancaster's 2013 estimated median housing value of $106,129 is the lowest among all, as is the city's estimated median rent of $696 in 2011. The rural townships have the highest weighted median housing value at $217,983, followed by the suburban townships at $208,322. The suburban townships have the highest weighted median rent, at just over $1,000 per month, followed closely by the semi-rural townships at $995 per month.

- The oldest housing stock is in the City of Lancaster and Columbia and Marietta Boroughs, where more than half the housing stock was built before 1939.

- In the City of Lancaster, 54 percent of the housing units are townhouses or duplexes.

- More than 10 percent of the City of Lancaster's residents walk to work, reflecting a relatively high jobs-to-housing balance-—one ideal of a sustainable mixed-use neighborhood...Conversely, 84 percent of workers in the county's suburban townships drive alone to work. Additionally, other than those households living in the City of Lancaster, a very high percentage of county households live in neighborhoods where the combined housing and transportation cost burden is at or exceeds 45 percent of household income-—a newly-devised more comprehensive housing affordability standard.

- At 24.5 percent, the city of Lancaster has the highest percentage of households with no vehicles.

- While the City of Lancaster has the highest percentage of one-person households, at 32.1 percent, it also has the lowest percentage of two-person households, at 28 percent; the city also has the lowest percentage of three-person households (15.5 percent). Four-person households represent 12 percent of all households in both the city and the boroughs. The boroughs have the lowest percentage of five-person households (4.9 percent) and six-plus person households (2.9 percent).

- Municipalities with the greatest population increases are: Manheim Township (5,643); the City of Lancaster (3,919); Manor Township (3,441); East Lampeter Township (3,330); East Donegal Township (2,686); Warwick Township (2,569); East Hempfield Township (2,509); West Lampeter Township (2,461); Lancaster Township (2,192); Rapho Township (2,126); and Mount Joy Township (2,122).

- The City of Lancaster has the greatest ethnic diversity, with African-Americans comprising 16.4 percent of its population and persons of Hispanic origin representing 41.2 percent. Elsewhere in the county, the population is overwhelmingly white: 91.9 percent of the population of the boroughs, 88.2 percent of the suburban townships, 95.3 percent of the semi-rural townships, and 96.6 percent of the rural townships.

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