Rural Housing Studies in the Eastern Indiana Region
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Rural Housing Studies in the Eastern Indiana Region


Rural Housing Studies in the Eastern Indiana Region

Submitted by:

The Purdue Center for Regional Development

Purdue University



As part of its recently completed high quality plan, the Eastern Indiana Regional Planning Council (EIRPC) noted that one of its major objective it intends to achieve is the following:

Provide a wide range of quality housing stock opportunities to include affordable housing (seniors; families); hip housing (young adults/millennials) and high-end Executive housing opportunities throughout region. 

In order to ensure that the EIRPC is able to make decisions that are grounded in quality information, the Purdue Center for Regional Development (PCRD) is proposing to deploy of a variety of methods to collect housing-related information that will guide the efforts by the regional council to have in place a diverse set of home-owned and rental properties to be the diverse needs of households in the region. This type of multi-pronged data gathering approach helps build a more accurate and comprehensive picture of the specific housing needs in the Eastern Indiana region.

The following section delineates the variety of activities the PCRD is positioned to implement in partnership with the EIRPC.  We look forward to discussing these options with the Planning Commission in the near future.

Proposed Housing Studies

Given the ongoing concern with housing in the Eastern Indiana region, the PCRD and Purdue Extension propose to undertake three major activities:

  1. Assess the Current Housing Status in the EIRPC: The PCRD will secure and analyze a variety of relevant secondary data resources that will help profile the current state of housing in the EIRPC overall and in each of the five counties that are formally tied to region.  The center will tap the following resources to develop a Housing Data SnapShot for the region and for each of its five counties:
  • The U.S. Census Bureau (decennial census, 5-year American Community Survey, American Housing Survey, Current Housing Report, etc.);
  • Federal Housing and Urban Development foreclosure numbers and rates;
  • State data source such as the Rural Indiana Stats (PCRD/OCRA) and Stats Indiana/Indiana Business Research Center.
  • County-based data from the Multiple Listing Services (MLS) and County Assessor’s Database. These data products would help shed light on sales of various housing types going on in the region. The various housing types and specific amenities that are being sold more quickly and which ones are staying longer in the market.
  • Information from County Planning and Building Departments in the EIRPC region that profile permits, starts, and completion by housing types, such as single family, two family, apartments/multi-family (which provides an idea of residential construction activity and market demand for various housing types in the region). Moreover, we will compile the occupancy data from the county/city Building Departments.

Our plan is to study the post 2008-2009 Great Recession in order to more accurately track the changes taking place in the changes taking place in the housing during the state’s economic recovery.

  1. Profile the Demographic and Socioeconomic Features of the Region and Its Counties: PCRD will develop demographic and socioeconomic snapshots for the region and each of its counties (or update the county profile if one exists already with the newest data available). The snapshot will include information on population trends and composition, the industry and occupation make-up of the region/counties, the characteristics of the labor force, and the educational credentials of the adult population.
  1. Conduct Housing Focus Group Sessions in each EIRPC Member Counties: A variety of key individuals and organizations will be invited to take part in focus group meetings organized by the PCRD in partnership with Purdue Extension at a minimum of five sites in the region. The intent will be to: (a) capture their input and advice on possible ways to improve the housing stock and quality in the county/region; (b) capture their insights on ways to retain and attract work-related talent to the region; (3) garner their input on various strategies that the region and its counties my implement to address housing and workforce needs in the Eastern Indiana Region. The list of people/groups we propose to invite to take part in the focus group sessions include business/industry representatives, bankers/financial institutions, private sector housing developers/builders, nonprofit organizations, local government officials, workforce development agency representatives, community college officials, community foundation leaders, Indiana’s USDA RD housing program representatives, OCRA community liaisons, and Purdue Extension county/regional staff members.  Ideally, each focus group session would be limited to 10-15 people at most.
  1. Develop and Administer a Housing Survey to Employees of Key Businesses/Industries in the Region: One of the important concerns in the region is the sizable number of people who live outside of the region who are gainfully employed in jobs in the five-county area of the EIRPC.  What is unknown is whether they current home location is based upon their personal residential preference or whether it is due to the fact that they are unable to find or afford housing in the East Indiana Region.  The PCRD proposed to develop an online as well as hard copy surveys (for those with limited or no access to the internet) that will capture the housing needs and preferences of employees who live in the region as well as those whose household is located outside of the five-county region.

The plan is to work with the EIRPC to form a Housing Study Advisory Committee to help determine the specific industries/businesses to be targeted and to help secure the commitment by these key employers to distribute the survey to its employees.  The intent is to have on the advisory committee key leaders who have strong trusting relationships with the major employers in each of the five counties that are part of the regional planning council.

  1. Synthesize, Prepare and Submit Report of Key Findings and Recommendations to the EIRPC: PCRD will synthesize the various sources of information it has collected (secondary data, focus group meeting output, survey data) and prepare a report of major findings and as well as strategies that the region may wish to consider as it seeks to address the housing objective that was incorporated into the region’s high quality plan that was produced as part of its engagement in the Stronger Economies Together initiative.

Summary of Deliverables

  1. Housing SnapShot for the region and for each county in the region (except Rush);
  2. Demographic and Socioeconomic SnapShot for the region and its counties (except Rush);
  3. Conduct Focus Group Sessions on Housing in the EIRPC Counties (except Rush)
  4. Develop and Conduct a Housing Study of Employees in Collaboration with Key Businesses/Industries in the Region/Counties.
  5. Prepare a Report of Key Findings and Recommendations to the EIRPC

The timeline for completion of these activities is a maximum of six months. Work will start as soon as funding for the project is secured.


Proposed Budget

  1. Housing Data SnapShots (5 separate reports): $7,500
  2. Demographic/Socioeconomic Data SnapShots (5 separate reports): $5,000
  3. Focus Group Sessions (4 in all): $2,000
  4. Survey of Employees: $2,000
  5. Findings/Recommendations: $1,000 (for the printing of all of the reports)


NOTE: The amounts outlined include funds for the PCRD to travel to the region to help carry out the key activities noted in the pre-proposal.

Contact Information:

Bo Beaulieu, PhD

Director, Purdue Center for Regional Development

Assistant Director, Extension Community Development Program

1341 Northwestern Avenue – Purdue Schowe House

West Lafayette, IN 47906


[email protected]