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Chesapeake Housing Report

City Of Chesapeake Housing Report

City of Chesapeake Housing Report – Center for Housing Research, Virginia Tech


The City of Chesapeake is part of the Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), an area popularly known as the Hampton Roads or Tidewater region. This is the 30th largest metropolitan area in the United States and is one of the few metropolitan areas not dominated by a large central city. The region also is distinguished as the location of several large military installations.

The geography of the area has traditionally promoted a pattern of decentralized growth along the region’s rivers and the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, which have promoted multiple nodes of commerce and shipping. The tidewaters of the Atlantic Ocean have shaped the regional development pattern into a multi-nucleated complex serviced by a spaghetti bowl of federal and state highways.

Chesapeake’s northern boundary forms the southern crescent of the Hampton Roads spaghetti bowl and is dominated by Interstate highways and major state arterial highways. Although the City does not have a true center, the section between Virginia Beach and Portsmouth is the oldest part of the City and the location of the densest development. The City stretches south to the North Carolina border. Despite the size of its overall land area (340.7 square miles), swamp land including the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge and sandy soils restrict development throughout much of the southern half of the City.

In 1980 the City of Chesapeake was of only modest population size, with 114,000 people. Since then the City has nearly doubled to approximately 207,000 people. From 1984 to 1995 the City experienced annual population growth of over 3 percent—typically considered a high growth rate—but since 1995 the growth rate has slowed considerably. To assist the planning efforts of the City of Chesapeake, the Virginia Center for Housing Research (VCHR) was contracted to perform a housing market and needs analysis for the Chesapeake Redevelopment and Housing Authority. This report summarizes the findings of that analysis, describes trends from 1990-2000 and projects growth from 2000 to 2010 and 2010 to 2020. Although the report is a comprehensive assessment of housing conditions and trends, it focuses on affordable housing.

Following a Summary and Recommendations, the report is organized into eight sections: population growth and migration; household size and composition; race and ethnicity; incomes and poverty; housing tenure, values and rents; housing problems; conclusions and recommendations. The first three sections pertain mostly to the demographic characteristics of Chesapeake. The following three sections examine housing trends in relationship to tenure, disability status, age and demand. The last section examines the supply of housing and addresses whether the supply of housing is keeping up with projected demand. The report concludes with a discussion of significant findings and recommendations.

Most often “city” is used to refer to either the physical boundary or the government of the City of Chesapeake. We use the capitalized form, except where “city” obviously refers to a generalized concept. City of Chesapeake Housing Report Center for Housing Research, Virginia Tech


The City of Chesapeake grew rapidly during the 1980s and 1990s and will continue to grow into the foreseeable future. Although the rate of increase in population and housing demand is likely to slow somewhat, we project an increase in housing demand of 13,000 units during the current decade and another 10,500 units between 2010 and 2020. This includes 10,260 owner occupied units and 2,656 renter occupied units between 2000 and 2010, followed by increases of 8,487 owner occupied units and 2,025 renter occupied units between 2010 and 2020.

The housing market in Chesapeake is heavily oriented to owner-occupied, single-family detached housing. More than three of every four households are families, but this understates the importance of families in both the owner and renter housing markets. In addition, Chesapeake has a racially diverse population and is similar to the MSA in racial and ethnic composition. Residential segregation is at a moderate level and declining. Chesapeake not only has a high homeownership rate, it is an important location for minority homeownership. However, the homeownership rate for blacks in younger cohorts is particularly low, lagging behind whites by 15 to 20 percentage points. In addition, black applicants for home purchase loans were the only group with an overall loan approval rate below 90%.

The City is experiencing problems of uneven development, with some older areas losing population while newer areas expand rapidly. South Norfolk and adjacent areas were largely “built-out” in the 1950s and now face the challenges of redevelopment in order to remain competitive in the contemporary residential market. Public intervention is needed to maintain the competitiveness of “built out” areas as they age. Although the median value of owner-occupied housing increased more rapidly in Chesapeake than in the MSA during the 1990s, the increase in house values was not uniform across the City. Median values in older areas declined in real dollars, while median values in newer areas increased rapidly. This in part reflects development patterns, but it also underscores the importance of public intervention to increase the competitiveness of older housing. Several indicators point to a weakening of the owner-occupied housing market in the older, north central section of the City, including a low number of mortgage loan applicants, a low number of home improvement loan applicants, and a relatively low loan approval rate. The City should carefully examine market trends in this area to determine the need for planned interventions to promote continued investment in the owneroccupied housing stock there.

Although incomes are significantly higher in Chesapeake than in the MSA as a whole and increased by 8% in purchasing power during the 1990s, there were approximately 14,000 persons living below the poverty level in the City in 2000. Although the poverty population is more highly concentrated in the South Norfolk area, every area of the City has some people who fall below the poverty line who might be in need of social services including housing assistance. The City is not without housing problems despite its general prosperity and high level of homeownership. There were 124 homeless people counted in 2004. But in many ways this reflects the “tip of the iceberg”. There were approximately 4,000 doubled-up families in 2000. Some of these families could be considered the “hidden homeless” if they are living with older parents, other relatives or friends because they cannot afford

housing on their own. Housing affordability is a serious problem for some residents. About 2,400 extremely low-income renters and 1,600 extremely low-income owners have serious housing problems. About two-thirds of these households devote 50% or more of their income for housing. Another 2,000 renters and 1,900 owners with incomes between 30-50% of the area median also have serious housing problems. More of these households have problems of overcrowding or physically inadequate housing than severe cost burdens, although the latter problem increased significantly between 1990 and 2000. There were nearly twice as many owners as renters with incomes between 51-80% of the area median who had housing problems (3,200 owners and 1,900 renters).

Nearly 12,000 households in Chesapeake included a person with a mobility or self-care limitation in 2000. Slightly over 5,000 (44%) were low-income households. Older persons with disabilities often have special needs for housing, as well as needs for social services. Persons aged 65 and over with a physical disability live throughout Chesapeake and their needs should be a concern not only of the City but of civic, religious and neighborhood organizations in every area of the City. With an increase in projected demand of about 13,000 units and possibly another 1,600 units needed for replacement demand, annual housing production needs to average at least 1,460 units. So far during the decade the average number of residential permits

issued per year has been 1,345, indicating a slight shortfall in housing production. The aging of the population over the next decades should provide solid expansion of housing demand within the City. But aging will also create more post-retirement households who might desire smaller houses with more amenities targeted to their needs. Many of these non-family households will have substantial equity in their homes and will be looking for high quality retirement communities within and outside the metropolitan area.

Greater urbanization will probably increase demand for rental housing, as will the need for affordable housing. Without proper attention to developing new rental properties in appropriate areas throughout the City, previously owner-occupied housing in older neighborhoods might be converted to rental occupancy. Such conversions can diminish confidence in the economic vitality of the neighborhood and spawn disinvestment. As current owner-occupants find they cannot sell to other owner-occupants and property values decline, fewer and fewer homeowners are willing to continue to invest maintaining their properties. Ironically, these very neighborhoods can offer entry-level homebuyers excellent opportunities, as long as investor confidence is maintained.


The City should closely examine how it can improve the housing market in older areas through design and renovation guidelines, information about qualified home inspectors and renovators, public plans to guide redevelopment, public improvements to spur redevelopment, building capacity in the nonprofit housing sector, and the development of mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhoods.

The City should look for ways to make the process of buying and upgrading older housing more seamless for the consumer. This could include the identification of contractors with demonstrated capacity in renovation, design and cost estimation guidelines for renovation, accurate cost estimation, and lenders experienced in providing loans that cover purchase and renovation. Major suppliers of building materials could also offer training and contractor information for the do-it-yourself remodeler in the City’s older neighborhoods.

In addition, the City needs to coordinate land use planning and housing and community development planning to enhance the competitiveness of older neighborhoods. Land use planning often focuses on the regulation of new development. Housing and community development planners typically focus on the problems of older housing and the need for affordable housing. The maintenance of viable, competitive older neighborhoods requires a high level of integration and coordination of both.

Further concentration of poverty in South Norfolk should be avoided if possible. Concentrations of the poor tend to have negative impacts on neighborhood quality, personal quality of life, and on economic and education opportunities. In Chesapeake these problems mainly exist at the micro-geographic scale—individual blocks or even specific multi-family properties. The lack of any extreme concentrations of poverty provides Chesapeake an important opportunity to maintain and improve neighborhood quality within its older neighborhoods before more widespread problems become evident. Efforts to provide affordable housing throughout a large portion of the City and to avoid concentrations of publicly assisted housing will contribute to the maintenance of neighborhood quality in older neighborhoods.

The City should work with lending institutions, the Virginia Housing Development Authority, and nonprofit housing organizations to help promote greater homeownership among minorities and to assure access to credit. Programs targeted at first-time homebuyers would be particularly helpful. The City should also focus on promoting ownership opportunities in older neighborhoods, where there is a greater supply of affordable housing. This approach would serve the two-fold benefit of increasing minority ownership and preventing conversion of units to renter occupancy.

The City should develop the capacity to monitor annual trends in sales prices at the neighborhood level using Property Assessment records and should include this information in its housing and neighborhood development strategies.

The City should consult with shelter providers within the region to determine if it needs to provide more homeless assistance services locally, particularly given the number of doubled-up families.

The City should focus on preservation of existing affordable rental housing and, when possible, the development of new units. The City should promote the preservation of affordable housing in older areas targeted for revitalization, as well as the provision of affordable housing in mixed-income developments.

Production efforts for affordable rental housing should be focused on units affordable to incomes below 50% of the median. Whereas the largest numbers of low-income renters with housing problems are small families, the elderly are the predominate group among low-income owners. However, the elderly represented an increased proportion of very-low income renters with housing problems between 1990 and 2000.

Young low-income homeowners could need assistance in managing budgets and in weathering fluctuations in income that could result in foreclosure. Older low-income owners might benefit from assistance with housing maintenance, property tax relief, increased energy efficiency and protection against predatory lenders.

The City should monitor housing production levels and the availability of land zoned for both single-family and multi-family housing to assure an adequate supply of housing to meet future needs.

Population Growth & Migration


Population growth in the Hampton Roads region (the MSA) has slowed considerably over recent years. From 1980 to 1990 the region’s population increased 20%, but the growth rate from 1990 to 2000 dropped to only 9%. According to the Virginia Employment Commission (which produces the state’s official population projections), the growth rate for the current (2000-2010) and successive decades (2010-2020 and 2020-2030) will slow to 5%. Projected growth rates assume a continuation of current economic trends affecting net migration into the region (which have decelerated the pace of growth).

Until recently, Chesapeake’s population growth has consistently outpaced the region’s growth. During the 1980s, the City grew by 33%, and then by 31% during the 1990s. Chesapeake grew considerably faster than the Hampton Roads region from 1984-95 and then converged on the regional growth rate from 1995-2000. The Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) projects growth for the City of 16% from 2000-2010 (half the rate of the 1990s) and 11% and 10% for 2010-2020 and 2020-2030. Based on population estimates for 2001 through 2003, population growth rates in both the City and region have indeed slowed considerably, but more so for the region than the City. The City has continued to grow at a faster annual pace (1.1%) than the region (0.5%), but is nonetheless substantially below the rapid growth of the 1984-95 period.

Migration to and from Chesapeake

Chesapeake has a slightly lower mobility rate2 than for the region as a whole: 48% of this population in the City had recently moved compared to 52% for the MSA as a whole (Table 1). Over one-third (36%) of recent movers in Chesapeake moved from another location in the City, another 28% moved from elsewhere within the Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News MSA, and 26% came from outside Virginia. Chesapeake is much more likely to attract recent movers from the remainder of the MSA than is the case for the MSA as a whole: 28% versus 19%. At the same time, Chesapeake was somewhat less likely than the MSA to attract movers from other states (26% versus 31%).

Chesapeake N-VB-NN MSA

Pecent Recent Movers 48.1% 52.0%

Percent of Movers from:

Within Chesapeake 36.8% 39.7%

Remainder of MSA 28.2% 19.4%

Elsewhere in VA 5.4% 5.3%

Other state 26.3% 31.0%

Outside US 3.4% 4.6%

Source: 2000 Census

Table 1. Recent Movers (1995-2000), Population 5 Years and Over 2 The percentage of population 5-years and over who had moved in the five years prior to the 2000 Census.

Chesapeake’s growth depends significantly on net migration, particularly from Virginia Beach and from outside the state. As shown in Table 2, a large number of people moved between the two cities from 1995 to 2000 (about 24,000 from Virginia Beach to Chesapeake and less than 22,000 to Virginia Beach), with Chesapeake gaining an additional 2,065 people on net. This is one-third of Chesapeake’s total gain in net migration during this period. The next largest movement of people to Chesapeake came from Newport News, but this was a substantial lower number (2,595 gross and 831 net).

Chesapeake actually had larger net gains from a number of cities outside the state, particularly from the New York metropolitan area. Kings County (Brooklyn), New York was the second largest source of net migration into Chesapeake, adding over 1,000 people. Philadelphia County is also a significant net contributor to Chesapeake’s growth. Apparently the City is an attractive destination for relocation from these areas due to its lower housing costs, climate and environment. Chesapeake has a few areas to which it loses population (Table 3), mainly Suffolk City, Virginia, which attracted a net 3,141 people away from Chesapeake. This outflow represents the expansion of development into the rural hinterland of the metropolitan area, which is also reflected in the net loss of 592 people to Currituck, North Carolina. With the exception of a few locations in Virginia, the City’s net losses are largely to the south and southwest, which are popular locations for retirees. The movement of university students probably affects the net losses to Montgomery County, Virginia and Wake County, North Carolina.

Naval Air Station Cecil Field, which closed in 1999, probably influenced the net loss to Duval County, Florida during this period. Commuting patterns reveal the interrelationship between jobs and homes. In 2000 Chesapeake was a net exporter of workers, as more people commuted out of the City to work (58,028) than commuted in (41,651). (See Table 4.) An additional 38,680 people both lived and worked in Chesapeake. The largest destination of out-commuting was to Norfolk, which attracts 43% of all out-commuters from Chesapeake but fewer than 7,000 workers commuted from Norfolk to Chesapeake. Chesapeake has much more balance between in and out commuters with other locations in the metropolitan area. A major stream involving over 30,000 commuters exists between Chesapeake and Virginia Beach, with 3,147 more workers commuting to Chesapeake; about half as many commuters travel between Chesapeake and Portsmouth, with more people commuting to Portsmouth for work than in the reverse direction. The commuting flows between Chesapeake and other jurisdictions within the MSA are much smaller, including the net flows into Chesapeake from Suffolk and Currituck.

Origin/Destination Area

Moved to Chesapeake Moved from Chesapeake

Net Change % of net

Total 121,088 114,918 6,170 100.0%

Virginia Beach city, Virginia 23,909 21844 2,065 33.5%Newport News city, Virginia 2,595 1764 831 13.5%

Suffolk city, Virginia 2,443 5584 -3,141 -50.9%

San Diego County, California 2,332 2112 220 3.6%

Fairfax County, Virginia 1,830 1381 449 7.3%

Henrico County, Virginia 1,768 2125 -357 -5.8%

Duval County, Florida 1,592 2298 -706 -11.4%

Hampton city, Virginia 1,582 1396 186 3.0%

Honolulu County, Hawaii 1,299 987 312 5.1%

Kings County, New York 1,287 124 1,163 18.8%

Prince William County, Virginia 1,030 675 355 5.8%

Queens County, New York 977 190 787 12.8%

Los Angeles County, California 963 320 643 10.4%

Albemarle County, Virginia 919 411 508 8.2%

New York County, New York 898 207 691 11.2%

Cook County, Illinois 883 510 373 6.0%

Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania 880 167 713 11.6%

Lake County, Illinois 859 832 27 0.4%

Escambia County, Florida 780 958 -178 -2.9%

Prince George’s County, Maryland 778 697 81 1.3%

Chesterfield County, Virginia 769 873 -104 -1.7%

Charleston County, South Carolina 764 395 369 6.0%

Anne Arundel County, Maryland 697 552 145 2.4%

Bronx County, New York 694 171 523 8.5%

New London County, Connecticut 673 627 46 0.7%

Roanoke County, Virginia 662 478 184 3.0%

Arlington County, Virginia 657 555 102 1.7%

Essex County, New Jersey 583 129 454 7.4%

Suffolk County, New York 574 140 434 7.0%

Onslow County, North Carolina 551 542 9 0.1%

Harris County, Texas 536 319 217 3.5%

Isle of Wight County, Virginia 528 851 -323 -5.2%

Southampton County, Virginia 521 385 136 2.2%

Montgomery County, Maryland 516 690 -174 -2.8%

Shelby County, Tennessee 509 679 -170 -2.8%

Monmouth County, New Jersey 505 289 216 3.5%

Currituck County, North Carolina 502 1094 -592 -9.6%

Source: Census 2000

Table 2. Locations with 500 or more People Moving to Chesapeake, 1995-2000Origin/Destination Area

Moved to Chesapeake since 1995

Moved from Chesapeake since 1995

Net Change % of total net flow

Suffolk city, Virginia 2,443 5584 -3,141 -50.9%

Duval County, Florida 1,592 2298 -706 -11.4%

Currituck County, North Carolina 502 1094 -592 -9.6%

Clay County, Florida 135 708 -573 -9.3%

Wake County, North Carolina 459 897 -438 -7.1%

Montgomery County, Virginia 456 877 -421 -6.8%

Henrico County, Virginia 1,768 2125 -357 -5.8%

Mecklenburg County, North Carolina 233 571 -338 -5.5%

Isle of Wight County, Virginia 528 851 -323 -5.2%

Tarrant County, Texas 121 433 -312 -5.1%

Dare County, North Carolina 223 530 -307 -5.0%

Fulton County, Georgia 344 618 -274 -4.4%

Pasquotank County, North Carolina 316 586 -270 -4.4%

Orange County, Florida 405 657 -252 -4.1%

Source: Census 2000

Table 3. Locations Attracting 250+ People (Net) From Chesapeake, 1995-2000Locality From Chesapeake To:

To Chesapeake From: Net

Total 58,028 41,651 -16,377


Chesapeake city VA 38,680 38,680 0

Norfolk city VA 24,904 6,877 -18,027

Virginia Beach city VA 15,394 18,541 3,147

Portsmouth city VA 9,976 7,620 -2,356

Suffolk city VA 1,850 3,190 1,340

Newport News city VA 1,737 879 -858

Hampton city VA 1,095 868 -227

Isle of Wight Co. VA 294 526 232

Pasquotank Co. NC 289 326 37

York Co. VA 211 284 73

Currituck Co. NC 157 1,270 1,113

Source: Census 2000

Table 4. Commuting Into and Out of Chesapeake, 2000

Population Change Within the City

Population change within the City (Map 1) has shown a pattern of very slow growth or loss in the denser section of the City between Virginia Beach and Portsmouth; very rapid growth in census tract 213.02 (bounded by Deep Creek, the Dismal Swamp Canal, Dominion Boulevard and the Elizabeth River) and tract 209.04 (bounded by the Elizabeth River, I-64 and the Great Bridge Bypass); fast growth south of the Municipal Center!