Many say apartment complexes bring several complications to their surrounding neighborhood, but is it really true that building multi-family units actually creates more harm than good, or does multi-family housing just get a bad reputation?

MYTH #1: Higher Crime Rates

A study conducted by the Arizona Multifamily Housing Association concluded that there is only a perception of more crime around multifamily communities.

This means that if there are multiple police calls to the same apartment complex, the police stats report that one address gets multiple calls, whereas on the flip side, a single address for a family home may only look like it gets less calls. An apartment property with 100+ units at the same address may be wrongly compared to one single-family residence. Per the Arizona Multifamily Housing’s study, “When police data is analyzed on a per unit basis, the rate of police activity in apartment communities is no worse than single family subdivisions, and in many cases, lower than single-family residential areas.”

MYTH #2: A Burden on School Districts

Opponents of multifamily housing think that these types of developments create pressure on the school districts they’re located in. However, the data between family owner-occupied homes and apartment complexes says otherwise. 

When looking at a study conducted by the American Housing Survey, 100 family owner-occupied homes included 51 school-aged children on average, and 100-unit apartment complexes averaged just 31 children. This makes sense when you think about it — apartments are typically more attractive to single people, couples without children, and empty nesters. So that new apartment complex being put in down the road will not necessarily mean that there will be an increase in children attending your kids school.

We do want to point out, however, that when looking at the data year over year, there is always an increase in school attendance but is more than likely due to family growth and not from the apartment complex that just popped up. According to the National Center of Education Statistics, “Fall 2020 public school enrollment is expected to be slightly higher than the 50.6 million students estimated to have been enrolled in fall 2019, but lower than in fall 2017, when public school enrollment was the highest ever reported. Total public elementary and secondary enrollment is projected to increase between fall 2020 and fall 2029 to 51.1 million.” An influx of children attending school will vary from year to year and will more than likely not correspond with a multi-family unit coming to the neighborhood. 

MYTH #3: Lower Home Values

Perhaps the most widely assumed fact is that home values will be negatively impacted by multifamily developments taking up residence nearby. This is another myth. The U.S. Census Bureau found that working communities with multifamily dwellings actually have higher property values than working communities without them. 

The average value of single-family residential homes is highest in working communities with the most multifamily units, in comparison to communities with only single-family residential properties. “Multifamily developments tend to follow the jobs,” says Will Mathews, Colliers’ managing director and platform leader of the East Region Multifamily Advisory Group. “Wherever there’s a large concentration of employees, there’s going to be more apartment communities.”

A 2010 study that examines the impact of mixed use/mixed income housing developments in the Richmond region, found that the home prices and assessments of nearby single-family homes were not adversely impacted by the presence of mixed income/mixed use developments. 

Interestingly, in many cases, the developments had a positive impact on those single-family neighborhoods. The denser the population is in the surrounding areas, the more conveniences there will be, such as public transportation, parks and green spaces, libraries, dining options, and more. So that apartment building under construction next door will likely work out much better for you than you may think.