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What Happened to Mid-Size Apartments, and Why It Matters

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It appears that new urban and suburban development may have become as stratified as the country at large. Earlier this week, City Observatory looked at the "vanishing middle" of new housing projects across the U.S. An examination of the last few decades of new housing starts point towards an increasing percentage of recent projects consisting of single-family homes or larger, multi-unit apartment buildings. The number mid-size apartments, defined as those with two to ten units, has dropped off dramatically, which the article attributes to changes in zoning, financing difficulty for multi-unit buildings, and the lack of space that could support larger, multi-unit structures. Why does that matter? That middle ground of mid-size apartments offers more diversity, both in terms of living options, neighborhood density, and rent, and the transitions across the city's housing stock can occasionally mirror moves up and down the economic ladder. With that middle housing option slowly shrinking as a percentage of available housing, it adds another type of polarization to the landscape.

· Where did all the small apartment buildings go? [City Observatory]