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Housing Report

Housing is a critical element that drives population and economic growth. The provision of a variety of housing in different price ranges is important in retaining and attracting people to the County. This report examines the housing market of Kenton County including household characteristics, housing development, and the changing nature of the population that will influence the housing market in the area. An understanding of the current housing market along with population trends can assist in identifying future demand for different housing types. 
Participants at recent community engagement events for the 2024 Comprehensive Plan Update indicated that availability of housing for all incomes and generations was one of top subjects for community members. Housing was also the second most important element to respondents. This feedback proves valuable that housing in Kenton County is top priority among our citizens. 

 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, median housing prices have rapidly increased. Workforce creation has outpaced workforce housing which has resulted in employees being forced to spend more on housing or face longer commutes from neighboring counties. This also creates difficulty in recruiting for employers. 

In the Northern Kentucky region, the average household size has dropped as a result of fewer family households and more households without children but is steadying across all counties. The average household size in Kenton County has been steadily decreasing from the 1970s although it has started to slowly level off. As of 2023, the average household size is 2.46 persons per household. The type of housing that is being most built includes three and four-bedroom homes which do not account for a diversity of incomes and smaller household sizes throughout the region. In the Northern Kentucky region, there is also an existing gap for rentals that are available to people at the lowest levels of income.

 

Kenton county is adding wealthier households to the community, creating an expectation for the upper income population to grow; however, in the Northern Kentucky area, there are currently 2.68 workforce jobs for each housing unit they could afford. Workforce jobs are defined as having an annual average salary below $60,000 as of 2023. This has resulted in an increased need for workforce housing. Workforce housing is defined by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) as housing that is affordable to households earning between 60 and 120 percent of the area median income (AMI).

In 2022 to 2023 870 new multi-family residential units were built primarily in Covington. It is projected that after 2024 927 additional multi-family units will come on the market including locations in Ludlow, Crestview Hills, Fort Wright, and Covington. One hundred seventy-two townhomes and condominiums have been built in Covington, Crescent Springs, and Taylor Mill around 2023. There are currently 413 townhomes and condominiums under construction as of 2023 in Fort Mitchell, Ludlow, and Independence.

New developments in the suburbs tend to be three- to four- bedroom tract housing subdivisions targeted for middle to upper-middle class incomes. This form of development is relatively overdeveloped in Kenton County. Kenton County is missing one- and two-bedroom homes across most income levels. These types of homes cater to an aging population, demand for entry level homes, as well as families with smaller household sizes. Kenton County is also missing three-bedroom rentals for lower income households. Mixed use developments including duplexes, triplexes, townhomes, apartments, and condominiums either for rental or ownership could help to fulfill these unmet needs5.

 

The NKADD 2023 Housing Data Analysis Report estimated that an additional 1,827 units will need to be built by 2028 “to accommodate projected new households while also incorporating other market dynamics such as organic unit replacement and vacancy fluctuations.” Higher density residential development should be considered to reduce greenfield development in exurban fringes. This can include multifamily buildings as well as attached single-family homes such as duplexes, triplexes, four family, and multifamily units. Jurisdictions throughout Kenton County should identify areas that have infrastructure and utilities in place for such development and allow increased densities in these areas as a permitted use. Compared to the national average vacancy rate of 9.7 percent, the vacancy rate in Kenton County is roughly 6.8 percent vacancy8

 

Kenton County is an employment hub made up of corporate offices, hospitals, warehousing and higher income jobs with the largest amount of healthcare and education jobs of the Northern Kentucky counties. 63.9 percent of Kenton County residents work in white collar jobs, 23.2 percent in blue collar jobs, and 12.9 percent in service jobs. Kenton County has the largest share of jobs in healthcare and education of any county in the Northern Kentucky region. Figure 2 shows the employment by sector gathered by Woods and Poole with their projections comparable to other regional forecasting5.

Large numbers of the workforce are comprised of lower wage service workers which causes poverty and rent burdened households within Kenton County5. A better depiction of this is evident in the Kenton County housing costs and affordability data in Figure 3 derived by Kentucky League of Cities’ Virtual Summit regarding Kenton County’s housing affordability and occupation annual wages6.