News & INSIGHTS

Utica wants input on city's housing stock. How to weigh in


Observer Dispatch, Steve Howe | Original Article

May 13, 2022


A study looking at the present and future of Utica’s housing stock is looking for input from area residents.

An online survey, available at uticahousingstudy.org, asks residents about their housing situation and what they’d like to see in regard to the City of Utica’s priorities. The survey runs through May 31, and the results will be collected and analyzed for the study, set to be released in June.

The study, conducted by czb LLC, already identified four broad issues with the housing stock in Utica: disrepair and divestment in existing housing; high levels of cost-burdened households; limited supply of attractive new housing; and challenges to neighborhood quality of life.

While it’s generally accepted that there’s an affordable housing shortage in Utica, the study will provide a more detailed understanding, said Derek Crossman, a community development specialist with the City of Utica. How the city’s housing stacks up to neighboring communities like New Hartford and Marcy, where different types of housing can be built and how to attract higher paid employees from Wolfspeed and other local development will be explored.

“So they should be able to see all those different things,” Crossman said. “Kind of where Utica stacks up right now and what we can do in the future to continue on with the progress we’ve seen both economically, population-wise and so on.”

Crossman said the city plays a big role in all housing development, though private developers drive quite a bit of it. One factor the city is heavily involved in is low-income tax credits for affordable housing and subsidies for market-rate housing.

“There’s always a subsidy somewhere along the line with housing because it’s such an expensive thing to build, especially nowadays,” he said. “So the city can play a role there.”

Utica has seen growth for two consecutive decades and development efforts - including a downtown hospital and $10 million state Downtown Revitalization Initiative - have shown investment in the city.

Despite this, Utica trails the state average in income measures including median household income ($42,624 to $71,117) and poverty rate (27.4% to 13.6%), according to Census figures. The city also trails the state average in homeownership rate and there are 25,805 occupied housing units, with 3,175 vacant.