Understanding the Missing Middle Housing Study

This City of Asheville study hopes to promote and identify barriers to diversified housing.

the asheville city skyline with mountains in the distance

The study focuses on residences that sit at the center of the housing spectrum.

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You’ve likely been hearing about the Missing Middle Housing Study since it first appeared on the City of Asheville’s agenda in 2022. But if you’re not familiar with the term or the study’s scope, its purpose might be elusive. So let’s dive into its goal and the community’s contribution.

Start with a definition

Daniel Parolek, founder of Opticos Design, a consultancy firm that’s working with the city, coined the term Missing Middle Housing in 2010. It describes building types that are in the middle of a spectrum between detached single-family homes + mid- and high-rise apartment buildings — think duplexes, townhouses, and courtyard buildings. They’re generally no higher than three stories, with multiple units and in walkable neighborhoods.

The types are called “missing” not because they don’t exist anymore but because these housing models were abandoned and, in some cases, illegal for about 70 years because of zoning regulations. In Asheville, two-thirds of the neighborhoods only allow single-family homes.

Understand the study

The Department of Planning and Urban Design and the Department of Community and Economic Development are conducting the Missing Middle Housing Study to identify barriers to the production and diversification of housing. When everything is wrapped up, the team will give a report with recommendations for promoting housing choices and aligning regulations with Asheville’s housing goals.

The project plans to review current policies, regulations, and zoning standards. The team will analyze barriers, create Missing Middle Housing and Displacement Risk Assessment reports, and gather input from the community.

Get involved

That’s where you come in. The city is conducting a survey to understand the challenges faced by Asheville’s renters. The deadline for this Renter’s Survey is Friday, Aug. 11.

The public is also invited to attend a free workshop on Friday, Aug. 4 at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center - Asheville Banquet Hall any time between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. You can visit interactive stations where you’ll be able to give feedback that will contribute to the study’s final report.