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Housing North expands programming in Manistee County with $250K commitment

BY Monday, June 20, 2022 12:25pm

Eight organizations in Manistee County will contribute $250,000 over the next three years to help expand nonprofit Housing North’s programming in the area.

Housing North will expand its Housing Ready Program to Manistee County and appoint a program coordinator based in Manistee. Housing North currently operates its Housing Ready Program in Emmet and Charlevoix counties with plans for a coordinator position in Leelanau County. 

Yarrow Brown, Housing North executive director. COURTESY PHOTO

Founded in 2018, the nonprofit housing organization serves 10 counties across the northwestern Lower Peninsula.

“We are so excited to bring this opportunity to Manistee County and are looking forward to finding a great candidate who can help bring more housing opportunities to the community,” Housing North Executive Director Yarrow Brown said in a statement.

The Housing Ready Program helps remove common barriers to housing development and coordinates projects between municipalities and developers, revises outdated zoning codes to support current housing needs, and explores local government tools including land bank and brownfield redevelopment programs.

“The lack of availability of safe, decent housing that our residents can afford is one of our community’s greatest challenges,” Laura Heintzelman, president and CEO of the Manistee County Community Foundation, said in a statement. “The collaboration and shared investment of partners in creating the Manistee County Housing Ready Coordinator position helped turn this challenge into an opportunity. The foundation is excited to help further this critical work.”

Manistee County and the city of Manistee each pledged $60,000, along with $40,000 from the Manistee County Community Foundation and $30,000 from the city of Manistee’s Housing Commission. Additional contributions came from the Manistee United Way and the Filer Charter Township.

Housing North formed a Manistee County Housing Action Team that includes a cross-section of municipalities, community organizations, businesses and individuals to coordinate a solution to housing challenges in the Manistee area. Led by the new program coordinator, the team will pursue a diverse range of housing options that serve multiple age, income and household groups. 

More than 15,600 housing units — mostly for homes priced below $200,000 or rentals costing less than $800 per month — across a 10-county Northern Michigan region are needed to meet existing demand, according to a 2019 study by a real estate analysis firm contracted by Housing North and Networks Northwest. 

As the region’s housing stock remains stagnant, growing amounts of seasonal housing and units converted to short-term rentals are further restricting housing options for the region’s workforce.

With 42 percent of its residents that meet the Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed (ALICE) threshold, Manistee County has among the highest ALICE rates in Housing North’s 10-county service area, and 14 percent above the state average, Brown said. 

Housing North serves Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Manistee, Missaukee, and Wexford counties.

Manistee’s Housing Ready Program coordinator will work with community partners to communicate the need for housing solutions, identify priority sites for housing development, work on housing rehabilitation and new construction opportunities, and seek out local, state and national funding to leverage existing resources for housing expansion.

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