Population decline cause of concern for Calumet’s future

CALUMET — During a presentation to the Village Planning Commission, commission member Chris Green suggested in a meeting last week that the village’s continuing population decline has resulted in a decline in occupied housing, which needs to be considered in developing a new five-year master plan.

Green said statistics show that in 2018, there were 512 housing units, which is up from the 2010 Census, but at the same time, there is a 25 percent increase in unoccupied housing units.

“If you look at the occupied housing,” Green said, “we’re saying that there are 376 occupied housing units. Out of those 376 housing units, 270 are rentals. Three-quarters of our housing is rentals. That was a surprise to me.”

Green said one thing that helped explain the 270 renter-occupied units was taking the Calumet Housing Commission into account.

“So, 80 percent of the rental units are just in that housing complex,” said Green, “so that skews the statistics a little bit, but it’s really disheartening to see owner-occupied housing going to six units in the village.”

Green said in his opinion the objective of a master plan is to rate the village and to determine the desired goal of the community. It doesn’t matter what else the commission or the council does if the population continues to decline at the current rate, he said.

“How do we stop this downward spiral in population?” Green asked. “We not only need stop this downward trend. We need to find ways to (reverse it). With a 25 percent vacancy in housing, it’s not good for people, and we need to find out what we need to do to turn this around.”

TOMORROW: How the decline in Calumet’s population complicates future planning in the village.