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An important component of any plan is to understand the trends of the past, present, and projected population. Once this is achieved, a plan can be properly prepared to meet the needs of the population. By understanding the demographic makeup of a community, it becomes easier to identify needs and to provide opportunities and amenities that will not only attract new residents, but also retain current residents. Furthermore, appropriate services, jobs, and housing opportunities at the county-wide level can be provided as well as in specific regions of the county. This element will assess Boone County’s past, present, and future demographic profile and examine the existing housing supply and present a plan to meet future housing needs.


U.S. Census Population (1980-2010)
According to U.S. Census Bureau figures, during the 30 year period from 1980 to 2010, the population of Boone County more than doubled from 45,842 to 118,811. The three incorporated cities in Boone County (Florence, Union, & Walton) all experienced steady population growth during this period as well. Florence has remained the county’s most populated city. Union was the county’s smallest city in population until 2000 when it overtook Walton.


Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Post-2010 U.S. Census Estimates (2011-2017)
Population estimates since the 2010 Census are derived from the American Community Survey (ACS) conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau using monthly data samples from over 3.5 million addresses to produce annual (July 1) estimates between each decennial long form Census. Since the 2010 Census, Boone County has grown an average of 1,700 people per year to a July 1, 2017 estimate of 130,728. During the period from 2010 to 2017, the cities of Florence, Union, and Walton have all continued to grow at the same 1.2% annual rate as the entirety of Boone County. [Note: In 2017 the City of Erlanger, KY annexed 2 small portions of unincorporated land in Boone County but neither has any residents living on them.] Regionally, Boone County’s growth rate is well above that of the Greater Cincinnati area (0.4%), Kenton County (0.6%), and Campbell County (0.4%).


Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2018

Projections to the year 2040
Population projections are forecasts of the population in future time periods using a model that integrates recent historical data and standard demographic processes, and are generated based on historic patterns. The population projection model used by the Kentucky State Data Center, located at the University of Louisville, is the Cohort Component Model which captures the impact of the primary components of population change (births, deaths, and net migration) in order to forecast changes in future population. Projections for Boone County show growth continuing through the year 2040 to an estimated population of 191,093 persons. This number may be a bit high based on current trends as the county is likely to fall short of the 139,018 population forecasted for 2020. The current trend suggests a 2020 population closer to 135,000. However, during the course of several decades, several increases and decreases in the growth occur and Boone County may still reach the 2040 projection if the growth rate increases as it has done in the past.


Source: KY State Data Center, 2016


Boone County’s median age has risen from 33.4 in 2000 to 36.6 in 2016. This trend is being seen across the nation as the large group of residents known as “baby boomers” (those born from 1946 to 1964) grow into retirement status. The larger this group becomes, the greater the tax burden on the county’s economy will be in order to provide necessary community services.


Source: U.S. Census Bureau; KY State Data Center, 2016

Boone County’s population is relatively homogeneous in racial composition with approximately 90% defined as white. The non-white population (Black, American Indian, Eskimo, Asian, etc.) has risen over the past couple of decades from 4.8% in 2000 to a 2016 estimate of 10.3% which is lower than that of the Commonwealth of Kentucky (12.5%) but higher than seen in Kenton County (9.6%) and Campbell County (6.2%). In a regional context, the Greater Cincinnati area as a whole has a non-white population of 20.0%.

The Hispanic population is not considered a separate race by the U.S. Census Bureau, but rather an ethnicity. Since 2010, Boone County’s Hispanic population has grown from 3.5% to 3.9% in 2016. This is higher than both Kenton County (2.9%) and Campbell County (1.8%). Regionally, Boone County has a higher percentage of Hispanic population than the Cincinnati Metropolitan Statistical Area which stands at 3.0%.


Source: U.S. Census Bureau; KY State Data Center, 2016

Educational attainment is measured in terms of the percentage of high school graduates among persons who are 25 years old and older. In 2016, Boone County’s percentage of residents 25 years old or older with at least a high school diploma (or equivalent) was considerably higher than the national and Kentucky rates and slightly higher than the Greater Cincinnati area average. Boone County’s rate is also above the national and Kentucky rate when it comes to population with a Bachelor’s degree or higher.


Source: U.S. Census Bureau; KY State Data Center, 2016

Household and Family Size
Household is one of the most basic reporting units of demographic data. Except for institutions or other forms of group housing, households are defined as the person(s) occupying a housing unit. According to 2010 Census results and the 2015 ACS estimates, the average household size in Boone County dropped slightly mirroring the trend nationally as household sizes will drop through the 2040 planning horizon. Regionally, Boone County’s household size is larger than that of the Greater Cincinnati area (2.50) as well as the national average of 2.54.


Source: U.S. Census Bureau; KY State Data Center, 2016

A household can further be classified as either a (1) family household or a (2) non-family household. The U.S. Census defines family households as two or more persons related by blood, legal adoption, or marriage. Family households largely represent married persons who are more likely to remain in the area in which they are currently residing. Non-family households are generally comprised of single persons who are more transitory and career mobile. In 2016, 23.1% of households in Boone County were non-family, down a bit from 2010. This compares favorably to the State (33.8%) and National (34.1%) averages and suggests that Boone County has a more stable population than Kentucky and the United States as a whole.

Population density refers to the number of persons per square mile of land area and serves as an indicator of the degree of settlement in an area. The City of Florence is by far Boone County’s most densely populated municipality. The higher densities of population in Boone County are located in the eastern half of the county while the lowest density areas are located in rural western Boone County with most developments in this region having less than one person per ten acres. Boone County’s population density has increased in recent decades but is still much lower than that of its more urbanized neighboring counties in northern Kentucky.


Source: U.S. Census Bureau; KY State Data Center, 2016

Migration measures all changes of residence including moving into, out of, or within a given area. Migration statistics are basic indicators of the economic situation within an area. Generally, if the local economic climate is poor, negative migration occurs as local residents relocate to areas with brighter economic opportunities. If the local economic climate is good, positive migration is experienced as outside residents move to the area. From 2010 through 2016, Boone County experienced a significant positive migration rate; higher than every other county in the Cincinnati metropolitan area with the exception of Warren County, OH. In fact, 12 of the 17 counties in the region actually experienced negative migration (more people moving out of their county than into it). The metropolitan area as a whole has experienced a very slight negative migration of -517 people over that same period.


Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2018


In primarily suburban areas such as Boone County, the majority of housing units are single family detached homes. In 2017, almost three-fourths of Boone County’s 49,863 dwelling units were detached single family homes according to the Boone County Geographic Information System (GIS). Most of them (74%) were located in unincorporated areas of the county. Of the 13,875 multi-family (or attached) dwelling units in Boone County, over half of them (52%) were located in the City of Florence. In fact, over half (54%) of dwelling units in Florence were multi-family while only 18% of the remainder of the county’s housing stock were multi-family.


Source: Boone County GIS, 2018

The majority of Boone County’s housing stock is fairly new with 62% of the homes built after the year 1990. In fact, the median construction year for a house in Boone County is 1994. Houses built prior to 1980 will likely see transition as the original owners grow to retirement age and consider other housing options (i.e. condominiums, retirement homes). The Cities of Florence (41%) and Walton (40%) have the highest concentration of homes built before 1980, whereas the City of Union has the lowest percentage of homes constructed prior to 1980 at 6.6%. In the remaining, unincorporated areas of Boone County, 20% of the housing was built before 1980.

The median value of a single family housing unit in Boone County in 2017 was nearly $198,564; up from $182,300 in 2010. These figures include the cost of the structure, but not the land cost. According to the building industry a general rule of thumb is that the lot value is typically around one-fifth of the total home cost. With the rising cost of land in Boone County, the trend of increasing median housing value is expected to continue.

Vacancy Rate
In 2017, Boone County had an estimated 5.8% vacancy rate for all units, both single family and multi-family, which is down from the 6.4% 2010 rate. This is below the national average of 6.9% and usually leads to increasing housing prices as demand nears supply.


Population Trends
The two major population factors affecting housing demand are total population and average household size. Besides the obvious increase in housing demand as population grows, the smaller the household size also adds to housing demand in a community. Boone County’s growth in population since 2000 will continue to be a factor in generating housing demand.

Migration is another factor that affects the amount of housing needed for future residents. One attractive feature of Boone County that encourages people to move here has been rapid growth in commercial and industrial jobs. Industrial growth has been strongest around the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport and along the I-75 corridor south of Florence. Commercial developments continue to expand in the Houston Road and Mall Road areas. These industrial and commercial areas, along with the airport, constitute regional employment centers and are acting as attractions for new residential development to occur within commuting distances. Boone County’s continued positive net migration will only add to the demand for more housing.

Age Composition
Boone County’s population is becoming more elderly (65 years and older) in proportion as is the trend nationally. This “graying” of the population has an impact on housing demand as many of these “empty nesters” will want to move out of their high-maintenance, large lot single-family homes and into condominiums, landominiums, or small lot single-family homes, preferably with fewer flights of stairs or even moving to “granny flats” near family members. This demographic shift, in part, has led to the development of senior living centers throughout Boone County during the past decade.

Marital Status
Marital status is another demographic characteristic useful in determining housing demand. In general, married couples with children tend to live in single-family houses, while other groups, such as young couples without children or empty nesters, tend to reside in multi-family or attached dwelling units. Boone County’s percentage of population over 15 years of age who are married is 58.4%, well above the national average of 48.1%. This indicates higher demand for single family detached units than other areas.

Economic Status
Economic variables of households also determine housing demand. Single family dwelling units tend to cost more to live in than multi-family rental units. An important factor in detached single-family housing development is the relative cost of a building lot. Rapid residential growth throughout the last 20 years has pushed the expense for developable land higher and has strengthened the trend toward smaller residential lots as developers try to offset high land costs. The demand for detached single-family units is evident in Burlington, Union, northern Hebron, and western Florence, where subdivision development is the most active.

Demand for multi-family housing has historically been in the Florence area. However, since 2010 an emphasis on new multi-family construction has shifted to the unincorporated county due in part to the continuing in-migration of a young, professional population, influx of unskilled labor jobs (such as warehousing and logistics employment centers) throughout the county, an increased growth of single-parent families, and the overall graying of the population. As a result, the demand for various multi-family housing options is likely to continue to extend into all developing areas of Boone County.

Another economic variable essential to identifying housing demand is the extent and location of poverty. The more people who are considered living in poverty in an area, the greater the demand will be for access to affordable housing or housing assistance. However, Boone County’s 2016 estimated poverty rate of 7.9% is well below both the national average of 15.1% and the Kentucky average of 18.8% and should not be a major factor in housing demand as it is in urbanized areas with higher poverty rates. There are a few avenues in Boone County that provide assistance to the population looking for, or having trouble paying for adequate housing. Boone County Assisted Housing Department administers the local Section 8 Rental Assistance Program designed to help low to moderately low income families find safe, decent, and sanitary housing as well as helping them with their rent. In 2017, 234 vouchers were issued through the Rental Assistance Program but these numbers change from year to year due to being influenced by funding levels. Also, Boone County Human Services Department oversees the distribution of tax funds, some of which are designated to providing emergency and stabilizing services to homeless residents in Boone County.

Recent Kentucky point-in-time counts (K-Count) have shown a wide range in the number of homeless persons in Northern Kentucky (Kenton, Campbell, and Boone Counties) since 2010. Those who are counted include individuals with a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not meant for human habitation or those living in a shelter designated to provide temporary living arrangements including congregate shelters, transitional housing, and hotels or motels paid for by charitable organizations or by federal, state, and local government programs. The counts, performed and published by the Kentucky Housing Corporation, historically underrepresent the number of homeless in Boone County due to several factors: (1) the lack of shelters in the county; (2) the large geographic area; (3) the variable weather conditions from year to year on date of the count. Boone County’s 2017 total homeless population was 33 (in comparison, Campbell County had 51 and Kenton County had 168). This number is down from 116 in their 2010 count. However, the preliminary 2018 K-Count results for Boone County shows an increase to 132 homeless people. These relatively low numbers have been offset by the fact that there are no permanent homeless shelters in Boone County, whereas Kenton and Campbell counties do provide some shelter and services to homeless Boone County residents. However, a couple of regional programs do exist in the county to address this issue such as the Brighton Recovery Center in Florence and the Women’s Crisis Center near Burlington. In addition, the Welcome House and the Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission have experience in developing “affordable” housing options for those in need. Welcome House is initiating a new program in Boone County that employs an outreach specialist and a part time nurse practitioner to identify, meet, and address the needs of the homeless. Lastly, a regional Northern Kentucky task force has recently been set up to look at the issue of homelessness.


Boone County’s steady and strong population growth is anticipated to continue through the year 2040. During this time, it is imperative that the most recent population trends, estimates, and demographic makeup of Boone County’s residents are gathered and analyzed in order to properly identify their needs and meet them through orderly growth. By understanding the demographic components of the population, adequate housing opportunities can be properly planned for and provided.

Identify the Needs of the Population
Constant monitoring and analyzing the demographics of a population will give understanding as to the needs of the residents of Boone County. By doing this, the possibility of inadvertently discriminating against or not meeting the needs of any segment of the population is avoided as it becomes more diverse racially and ethnically. It is clear that Boone County’s population will continue to grow older. Therefore, appropriate housing must be provided for the growing elderly population near transit, commercial areas, and public facilities and be consistent with the desires of that segment of the population. This can be addressed by providing multi-family dwellings such as apartments, condominiums, assisted living complexes, and even smaller 1-story single family homes or “granny flat” accessory units to single family homes.

Furthermore, by continuing to monitor the composition of the population, Boone County will be more prepared to provide proper and adequate amenities that encourage them to stay in the county rather than moving elsewhere for their needs to be met. Knowing the makeup of the population will assist in providing the appropriate housing, employment, and retail shopping opportunities to meet their needs at the countywide level as well as within specific areas within the county as development plans and zone change requests are reviewed.

Housing Types and Locations
The main need of a population base is for safe, sound, and sanitary housing. Meeting this involves considering both housing supply and demand in order to determine what those future needs will be. It is important to forecast housing growth by areas in order to ensure that an equal balance of options exist to meet the needs of a diverse population. Furthermore, in order for Boone County to retain its youth, the county must provide housing choices that complement the educational opportunities, the current job market, and commercial attractions. Otherwise, an out-migration of the young population will occur. A variety of multi-family housing options should include apartments, townhouses, patio homes, condominiums, nursing homes, and retirement housing all ranging greatly in price per unit to accommodate a wide range of relative affordability. These types of units are increasing in demand beyond the established urban areas such as Florence and should be encouraged to occur in the unincorporated portions of Boone County as viable options for both the building community and the prospective resident, especially as the county’s land values rise.

Older housing stock that can be rehabilitated without undue effort or expense should be retained and in some cases, incorporated into new subdivision design rather than being demolished. There are concentrations of older housing stock in need of restoration or rehabilitation in many of the older communities like Florence, Belleview-McVille, Burlington, Constance, Hebron, Petersburg, Stringtown, Taylorsport, Union, Verona, and Walton. Home ownership, maintenance, and rehabilitation assistance of older homes in these areas should be incentivized and encouraged through Federal or local grants.

New residential development, regardless of the type, should be evaluated for its impact on the county’s existing infrastructure and natural environment to ensure that it fits in with existing surrounding development through proper buffering and design. High density developments should be close to thoroughfares and urban services and be sensitively developed in terms of building height, setbacks, mass, and visual impact. A variety of housing opportunities within the established urban (and suburban) areas of Boone County would encourage mixing of different income levels. Most new construction of typical single-family housing should be encouraged to occur within undeveloped areas within the established suburban portion of the county in order to take advantage of existing infrastructure and services already in place and avoid placing strain on the more rural transportation network in the undeveloped portions of the county. Consideration must be given to existing conditions that may affect new development in established areas such as adjoining land uses and proximity to the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport where commerce and airplane noise may be an issue.

Established single-family housing areas should not experience an influx of multi-family or duplex construction unless adequate buffering or proper development design can be provided to ease the transition. Duplexes are often more successful than multi-family housing in blending in with single-family residential surroundings. Therefore, when buffering is minimal between single-family housing areas and proposed multi-family units, an appropriate transitional area of duplexes may be designed. New subdivision development should include design considerations and gradation of lot sizes to lessen the impact on the character of the area. This is particularly true in areas of agricultural zoning and could include larger lots or green space along the main road(s), larger lots or a buffer along adjacent low density residential uses, strategic open space, and detailed attention to the orientation of housing units. The bottom line is that infrastructure partners must work together and correlate improvements in order to ensure capacity and be sensitive to the surrounding area.

A progression of densities of residential uses from high (multi-family) to low (single family) shall be encouraged. Where traditional progressions of high to low net density are not possible through creative development design, an appropriate and attractive visual transition should be achieved. This could include existing vegetation or new landscaping and/or fencing. Existing vegetation (such as wooded fence rows) should be retained as much as possible to provide buffer strips and stormwater filters. The density of typical residential developments in Boone County over the past couple of decades has been consistent with the suburban residential densities reflected on the 2035 Future Land Use Map (up to 4 units per acre). However, there is a large segment of the population that desires to live in more rural areas while still having convenient access to centers of commercial, services, and employment activity. For residential development to occur in these outlying areas, adequate and proper infrastructure must be provided, and impact on the natural environment must be minimized. If significant large lot residential subdivision development does occur in some of these rural areas, roads and other components of infrastructure will have to be improved.

Existing and planned water, stormwater, and sanitary sewer services influence the locations of new residential construction. However, just because one form of public infrastructure exists or has been improved, does not automatically mean the area is ready for suburban development. Other forms of infrastructure may also be needed or improved first. Development phasing is an option to ensure that the timing of a new development corresponds with the provision of adequate infrastructure.

In order to support the densities needed to sustain mass transit and to foster new affordable housing options, average minimum densities should be encouraged for mixed-use, planned developments. This would allow a variety of housing types but also enable a logical progression of intensities. The highest residential densities would be in the activity centers of these mixed-use developments and would include neighborhood commercial, employment, public uses, as well as transit stations or stops.

The demand for more affordable residences, generated by the commercial and industrial employment growth centers, has resulted in the development of many new condominium and apartment complexes. However, attempts at more affordable new construction single-family or apartment developments are often met with localized resistance from the public. Creative site design and architecture can help overcome some of this opposition. Clustered housing or Open Space Subdivisions shall be promoted (via density bonuses) as they enable the development industry and local government to address density concerns and strengthen the sense of community, as well as meet the housing demands of a changing population. Mixed-use, planned developments that can provide a mix of housing options, commercial opportunities, offices, public uses, recreational uses, and multiple transportation options (i.e. transit, pedestrian, park-and-ride) could be one strategy for meeting this demand for higher density. Areas of employment growth in Boone County should experience development pressure for housing options relative in affordability to the jobs and shopping opportunities being created in the area.

Manufactured (or modular) homes are an economical alternative to conventional homes and can lower the cost of construction to help offset rising land costs. These manufactured homes have historically been in demand in the rural, western half of the county. Most manufactured homes are permitted throughout all of Boone County and can occur separately or in a subdivision, unless regulated by private deed restrictions or restrictive covenants. Mobile homes, however, are strictly limited to the few remaining mobile home parks in Boone County or in the Agricultural (A-1) zoning district which is primarily located in the western portion of the county. However, A-1 zoning requires a minimum five acre lot size making this a less economical housing alternative with the increasing land prices.

Government Assistance
Despite Boone County’s relatively low poverty rate and homeless population, the problem is still real and needs to be addressed. Every effort needs to be made to identify people who are having trouble obtaining sound housing and connect them with agencies such as the Boone County Assisted Housing Department or Boone County Human Services. In addition, affordable housing development could be facilitated through non-profit housing organizations such as Habitat for Humanity. Also, homeless advocate organizations like Welcome House should be utilized whenever the situation of homelessness is suspected.

In conclusion, it is essential that the makeup of Boone County’s population be accurately identified in order to make sure that all resident needs and housing opportunities are met and balanced with affordability, proximity to employment and commercial centers, access to educational resources, and proximity to public transportation as needed. Residential development has occurred at a lower density than planned in the Future Land Use Plan over the last several comprehensive plan updates in Boone County and the development has predominantly been in a limited variety of product, typified by mid-to high-range single-family subdivisions at approximately three units per acre. The demand for this product should remain fairly strong throughout the 25 year planning horizon; however, Boone County needs to be open to changes in the market as well as type and design of housing options in the coming years as the demographics of the county evolve.