Census shows fewer vacant homes in Franklin

Published 9:28 am Saturday, February 26, 2011


FRANKLIN—According to the 2010 U.S. Census, there were 371 vacant housing units in Franklin, down sharply from 459 in 2000.

In Southampton County, however, 754 housing units were unoccupied in 2010 compared to 454 units 10 years earlier. And in Isle of Wight County, there were 915 vacant housing units compared to 328 in 2000.

“My initial thought might be that rental housing in Franklin is at a premium,” Franklin Mayor Jim Councill said of the housing numbers. Elsewhere, “the housing numbers may be contributed by the building boom in the late 2000s, and some companies may have overbuilt, as well as International Paper’s closing. These may be some of the factors.”

Beth Lewis, director of Southampton County Community Development, said that for the past 10 to 12 years, the county has issued permits for 50 to 55 new structures a year.

That was “except for a peak in 2005,” Lewis said. “Last year there were 62 new residential units, including site-built and manufactured houses.”

Southampton County Administrator Mike Johnson said without seeing the data, he was unable to evaluate it.

“It may be simply that houses on the older level are simple vacated,” Johnson said.

Isle of Wight County Public Information Officer Don Robertson said he thought the 915 figure was “a pretty large number for a county our size.”

Beverly Walkup, director of Planning and Zoning for Isle of Wight, said the number “may be linked to foreclosures.”

Patricia Fletcher, a partnership specialist for the U.S. Census Bureau in Charlotte, N.C., stressed the 2010 figures in this category are tentative.