Missing Middle Housing

The City of Elk Grove is preparing to update the Housing Element of the City’s General Plan.  As part of this process, the concern has arisen as to how well the market provides housing for middle-income households.  Because there is limited development of middle-income housing in Elk Grove and elsewhere in California this housing type has been referred to as the “missing middle.”

In 2019, the City commissioned a report to consider the economics of missing middle housing.  The report includes an overview of trends influencing housing demand, a description of the market of middle-income households in the region, an analysis of the development feasibility of missing-middle housing products, and recommendations for how the City can promote new housing for middle-income households. As discussed in the report, there are two distinct but related facets of the market for missing middle housing: the product-type component of the housing market and the economic component.

Missing-Middle Housing Products
The term “missing-middle housing” was originated in 2010 by Opticos Design, of Berkeley, CA.  On their missing-middle website, they provide a simple definition for missing-middle housing, “House-scale buildings with multiple units in walkable neighborhoods.” As they further describe, this type of housing covers the gap between single-family detached housing and mid- to high-rise multifamily apartments and condos. It includes duplexes and other multiplexes, courtyard apartments, bungalow courts, townhouses, and small apartment buildings. Since 2010, much has been written about missing-middle product types, urban design considerations, and form-based codes.  This report builds on previous work rather than re-presenting it.  Instead, this report provides an economic analysis of housing for middle-income households specific to market conditions in Elk Grove.

Middle-Income Households
The other component of the missing middle is middle-income households.  There is no set definition for middle income.  One way to think about the levels of income in the middle is to consider the income distribution in quintiles—five equal groups, each containing 20 percent of the households in income order.  For the purposes of this report, middle income is defined as an annual household income between $43,000 and $113,000, in 2019 dollars.

Draft Report 
The draft report is available at the link below. 

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