Historical Background & Critical Points Timeline
Delphi: Storied Past, Stellar Future!
The city’s total population declined (-6%) between 1980 and 2015. A contrast to overall county and state population trends, which show population increases. For instance, Carroll County experienced a small degree of population growth since 1980 by 2.2%, while the state’s population increased by 20.6%. Historically, Delphi has remained a predominantly White community (99.4% in 1980 and 96.2% in 2014). Recent trends indicate of the city’s total population, 1.3% was categorized as African-American and 2.5 % as Other Races.
In the past 30 years Delphi experienced increases in the percentage of its populations living in poverty. Currently, of Delphi’s 1,135 households, approximately 12.4%* of individuals are living below the poverty line. This is an increase of approximately 117.2% since 1980. In comparison to Carroll County, Delphi has a slightly higher percentage of its families living below the poverty line in 2014 (10.1%) and less than the state (15.5%)*. However all three have experienced increases in poverty since 1980 (+117.2%, +34.7%, and +59.8% respectively).
*Data Correction: The erratum in percentage of individuals below poverty: Corrected and republished May 23, 2014.
Throughout the past three decades Delphi’s median household incomes decreased. For instance, after adjustment for inflation Delphi’s 1980 median household income was estimated at $40, 463 and in 2012 the median household incomes was estimated to be $37,583. This is a 7.8% decrease. The most recent data estimates demonstrate the Delphi’s median household income ($37,583) is significantly less than the median household income of Carroll County ($49,935) and the overall state estimates (Indiana $48,374).
Delphi: Socioeconomic Characteristics of Decline
Source: 1970 Census of Population, PC(1)-C1 "General Social and Economic Characteristics", table 182. 1980 Census of Population, PC80-1-C1 "General Social and Economic Characteristics", table 245.U.S. Census Bureau, Census 1980 Summary Files 1 and 3. U.S. Census Bureau, 2008-2012 American Community Survey Table S1702. U.S. Census Bureau: State and County QuickFacts, 2015. Data derived from Population Estimates, American Community Survey, Census of Population and Housing, State and County Housing Unit Estimates, County Business Patterns, Nonemployer Statistics, Economic Census, Survey of Business Owners, Building Permits. STATS Indiana, using data from Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau. Minnesota Population Center. National Historical Geographic Information System: Version 2.0. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota 2011.
a. Poverty figures for 2014 were the most recent data estimations from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 2010-2014 Table S1701 estimations provided for the specific geographic area.
b. The Median Household dollar amounts reported for 1980 are values that have been converted to constant 2012 dollars according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index Inflation Calculator, available at www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm.
Over the past three decades, Delphi encountered issues with an aging housing stock resulting in maintenance and affordability issues. Of the current 1, 215 housing units, nearly 80% were built prior to 1970, with no homes being built since 2010. The average housing unit is over 60 years old. Delphi also has many older and historic homes. Many of the homes date back to the 1800’s which indicate a percentage of households and neighborhoods in Delphi must deal with the costs of maintenance and repair of aging systems, as well as with the need to adapt structures to fit the needs of modern life. Because the homes are older they require maintenance costs that are not always feasible for homeowners with limited income streams. For instance interview respondents describe the state of housing in the community and the need for reinvestment.
“....We weren’t in that bad of shape, believe it or not. But a blind man could come through and actually notice housing in some areas was starting to get into blight.”
“...In the last two to three years we are seeing a lot of the young professionals wanting to get back into the smaller communities. I think people are starting to see the safety and security , all of that quality of life stuff....they are coming back to this, but the thing that they want is they want the convenience. They want those maintenance free homes. That’s the shortage.”
Community Economic Development
Delphi’s downtown business district declined over the past three decades creating difficulties with business retention and attraction in the downtown corridor. Over this period of time, Delphi’s been successful in implementing small-scale, piecemeal investments with its Downtown Facade and Main Street programs. However these improvements have not led to immediate broad results or the large scale impacts the city had hoped for. According to interview respondents, prior to Stellar, there remained a high vacancy rate, with less than 10% of the lower level retail and commercial space occupied in the downtown, and about 30% of the second floors and approximately 5% of the upper floors were being used.
“The downtown businesses….for ten to twelve years, we were throwing $15,000 a year to façade improvements. And you know, you get the fronts of these buildings taken care of, but you have the roofs and the backsides.... You don’t want to have a Hollywood movie screen here. But you can see that we were throwing a little bit of money at this, but we just didn’t have enough to be able to get us over the hump to create that momentum for businesses to actually come here.”
Delphi’s challenges of business attraction and retention were compounded by the indirect transportation issue of the new Hoosier Heartland Highway. Until 2012, State Road 25 was a major state road, which passed through the heart of Delphi becoming the city’s main street. The Hoosier Heartland project involved replacing State Road 25, a two-lane rural highway constructed in the 1930’s, with a new four-lane, limited-access highway connecting Lafayette to Fort Wayne. The Hoosier Heartland Highway created a bypass around Delphi, where instead of the highway coming through the downtown, it is on the fringe. With the construction of the Hoosier Heartland Highway, city officials were concerned about the loss of traffic in the downtown as well as afraid that many of the existing businesses would be pulled out to the new highway south of town.
“The Hoosier Heartland creates a by-pass that alleviates traffic jams and alleviates truck traffic... By the same token, people will have no reason to stop here if we don’t make our town a destination hub.”
“....Trying to improve their retail in their downtown and with that highway pulling traffic out of Delphi they realized that they needed something to bring those back into Delphi and force people to want to get off that major highway that went around Delphi.”
“..They were concerned about the loss of traffic in the downtown. Afraid that a lot of the businesses would be pulled out .... And that because of that downtown would see a cessation of development and commerce.”