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Missing Middle

what it is · what it means


Opticos principal Daniel Parolek coined the phrase in 2010, but almost a decade later, many of us still have no idea what it means.


According to Optics, the “missing middle” is a “range of multi-unit or clustered housing types compatible in scale with single-family homes that help meet the growing demand for walkable urban living.” Examples of this type of housing include:

  • Stacked Duplexes
  • Side-by-Side Duplexes
  • Townhouses
  • Mixed Use
  • Courtyard Apartments
  • Carriage Homes


shrinking middle class

the stats · the effects


People also use “missing middle” to describe America’s shrinking Middle Class. This is causing a domino effect in housing.


The number of middle-income households dropped by 12% from 1970 to 20161. Only lower-income and upper-income households grew. A number of middle-income households simply are not able to save or qualify to buy their own home.


These changes have lead to:

  • Higher demand for rentals
  • “highest & lowest price points” demand
  • Lower demand for median-priced homes


Class Calculator

am i middle class · comparison


Pew Research updated its Class Calculator in 2018. about half of American adults lived in middle income households in 2016.


The numbers for adults break down like this:

  • 52% lived in middle-income households
  • 29% lived in lower-income households
  • 19% lived in upper-income households


What group are you in? Check out the class calculator to find out.




Advocating for homes that are affordable for working people.

Learn More About WWL 

Work. Walk. Live.


Work. Walk. Live. is a part of the Navigate Communities family.

Creating housing that is affordable is a big part of our mission.

We want to:

  • Invest in communities
  • Provide high-quality & safe housing options
  • Provide rich support services
  • Provide services that aide the housing industry


This is why developing housing for America’s workforce is so important. So.. let’s talk about solutions. The conversation continues with you.


Let us know your thoughts by using these hashtags on social media:

  • #WorkWalkLive
  • HousingAffordabilityForAll