A need for a wider mix of affordable housing options exists in Northwest Indiana, according to the 2012 Quality of Life Indicators Report.
The report found more residents are finding it harder to pay for housing.
The number of homeowners spending more than 30 percent of their household income on mortgage payments -- considered the threshold of unaffordability -- rose to 28.6 percent in 2010 from 17.4 percent in 2000.
Renters also are having more difficulty paying for housing, with more than half of renters at the threshold of unaffordability, according to the report.
More homes also are vacant in the region, which the report notes can hurt property values and breed crime.
The report recommends developing a regional housing strategy and possibly creating a housing roundtable or task force to explore the area's longterm needs.
In meeting those needs, the report recommends Northwest Indiana consider its changing population. The report projects Northwest Indiana will have more elderly residents and more people living alone without children and in single-parent households.
The report noted: "Creative thinking among public officials, planners, architects and builders may lead to different patterns of housing development that create closer communities with more amenities that are less dependent on cars, where it is easier to walk or use public transit and to know your neighbors..."