There is a fundamental element to the fact that housing functions as a cornerstone of success in almost every aspect of our lives. Housing is where we go to rest after a long day at work, where we eat meals as a family, and where our children do their homework dreaming of curing cancer or becoming president of the United States.
It is a place we can call our own and where we should feel safe.
Currently, access to quality and affordable housing is a major challenge that touches the lives of all Michigan residents in one way or another, whether they realize it or not. Perhaps they are hoping to take advantage of a brewery in northern Michigan, but it is closed due to a lack of staff because the housing of the workforce is inaccessible. Or maybe they’re looking to buy their first home in suburban Detroit, but are outbid in multiple-offer situations because demand for homes is high, but supply is low. Addressing access to affordable housing impacts the foundation of resident success and ultimately a strong Michigan economy.
There are many interwoven social and geographic inequalities that impact housing accessibility and affordability. The 2020 Ending Homelessness in Michigan 2020 annual report by the Michigan Campaign to End Homelessness found that approximately 46% of the state‘s homeless population is black, despite making up only 14% of the state’s population. State. The cost of housing has also risen dramatically in recent years. Between January 2013 and October 2021, the average sale price of a home in Michigan increased by 84%. Meanwhile, the average number of building permits granted for the construction of new homes is less than half of that before the Great Recession.
These are the kinds of housing inequities historically rooted in discriminatory practices that we need to identify and untangle to create more equitable pathways to accessible housing for all. It was responsible for creating Michigan’s first-ever Statewide Housing Plan (SHP), a five-year endeavor to begin unraveling the complex social and geographic barriers that prevent equity in housing while improving housing affordability for Michigan residents.
But we cannot do it alone. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the housing crisis; it requires input, buy-in and effort from stakeholders in every community, from government leaders and business owners to residents themselves. Everyone should have a voice and everyone should be part of the solution.
Michigan’s efforts to improve housing affordability received a significant boost in April when Governor Whitmer signed the Building MI Together plan. This bipartisan bill invests nearly $5 billion in Michigan communities. In addition, this budget includes the largest investment in infrastructure improvements in Michigan’s history.
The bill also earmarks $150 million specifically for housing and housing improvements in underserved rural and urban areas of the state, including:
- A $50 million investment in the Housing and Community Development Fund to address the housing needs of low-income households
- $50 million to create a fund to fill the gaps in missing intermediate housing
- $50 million for residential home improvements, including grants to encourage energy efficiency and provide energy assistance
Governor Whitmer’s plan also helps MSHDA continue to support several existing rental and ownership programs. COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) has helped more than 116,000 tenants and landlords statewide and helped recover $660 million in rent and utility costs. For homeowners, the Michigan Homeowner Assistance Fund (MIHAF) received $121 million in federal appropriations to further prevent pandemic-related foreclosures and other financial hardship.
While no two communities or personal circumstances are the same, we know there are common issues found across the state that need to be addressed. We are one Michigan, and within our ranks we have the expertise and innovation to build vibrant communities.
The foundation for building these communities begins with affordable and accessible housing, which is central to Michigan’s continued business growth, prosperity, and opportunity. I
f we work together, we can help those in need of housing achieve the dignity they deserve and ensure Michigan maintains a competitive edge in attracting and retaining talent as we grow our economy. Investing in equitable access to housing is investing in Michigan’s future.