TRAVERSE CITY — A 10-county campaign focusing on housing options in northwest Michigan is in the works with meetings and plans set to start this month.
Homes for Our Future is a communications and outreach campaign intended to drive action for housing in the region and is sponsored by Housing North, a nonprofit housing partnership based in Traverse City.
The Homes for Our Future campaign has three main goals:
• Encourage residents to join the campaign, learn more and act as advocates for housing solutions;
• Encourage local planning commissions and boards to become housing ready communities by considering changes to zoning and other local policies — as well as opportunities to work with developers and other partners, and
• Encourage business owners and leaders to join the campaign, act as advocates and consider how to participate as partners.
Sarah Lucas, co-chair of the citizens committee, said in a news release that the region is a “special place to live and we want young families and all of our (residents) to be able to have homes in our cities, villages and rural areas.”
“But it’s becoming more and more out of reach for families and middle-class people to live here,” Lucas said. “The problem has been growing for years, and we need to take action. The great news is we know there are strategies that work, and there are steps we all can take to put them in place.”
The campaign covers Manistee, Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Emmett, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Missaukee and Wexford counties.
The Homes for Our Future campaign is planning to conduct community outreach and promotion activities throughout the region.
John Zimmerman is the owner of BrightStar of Northern Michigan which provides in-home health services in northern Michigan. Zimmerman said in a news release that housing is one of the biggest issues BrightStar faces when hiring employees.
“We could add more jobs, but we just don’t have enough people to fill them,” he said. “We need housing priced for this workforce. At the same time, it’s hard to create more housing when there’s not support from local leaders or the public. We know we need to come together as a community to raise awareness and build support for solutions.”
According to the news release, northern Michigan as a whole has a significant gap in available housing.
“According to a study conducted by LandUseUSA in 2019, there’s a need for over 15,600 units — about 70% of which is for rentals — to meet current demand. Most of that demand is for homes priced below $200,000, or for rents below $800,” reads part of the release.
The campaign’s news release said that “overall available housing stock remains the same while more rental housing is taken of the market for short term rentals.”
“Local surveys conducted by Manistee and Traverse City chambers of commerce and the Leelanau Peninsula Economic Foundation show that ‘access to housing’ is considered a primary obstacle to creating new local jobs, and that young professionals are considering leaving the region for lack of housing,” part of the release states. “Businesses in wide-ranging industries describe putting new employees up in hotels while they search for housing — and having new employees ultimately turn down job offers because they can’t find a place to live.”
Homes for Our Future’s new release states also housing shortages create traffic and environmental issues.
“When people need to live far away from jobs and schools, long commutes add traffic, put more wear and tear on roads, and create more emissions that impact air and water quality,” reads an excerpt of the release.
The campaign is creating a list of events in the region such as highlighting a recent housing market study, a meeting to go over Housing North’s legislative activities, local housing efforts and upcoming initiatives.
source: news Advocate
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