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MI House Committee will address state's affordable housing crisis

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This week, Michigan House committee testimony will address the state’s affordable housing crisis. The Senate could also vote on a package of bipartisan bills addressing the problem.

The Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce has been hearing from its members that the lack of affordable housing is a barrier for attracting the needed workforce. Recent Census data indicates over the last 10 years, Kent and Ottawa Counties added 90,000 residents and built 7,800 housing units.

“Average cost of a home that’s sold in Kent County has gone up 70% in six years.  That’s not sustainable.”

What are the rents?

“They’re up 40% in six years and we’re a national leader in income growth.”

Josh Lunger is director of government affairs at the Grand Rapids Chamber. It, along with the Home Builders Association of Michigan, Michigan Municipal League and Housing North, have formed the Housing Michigan coalition asking what can be done at the state level.

“A lot of them are going to be property tax incentives based on hitting certain affordability or attainability goals that will be set by and negotiated between the local government and a for profit or nonprofit developer.”

“I think one of the key things is that it’s really local control. When you have local units that try to incentivize organizations to help their employees get local housing, that’s really critical. The flexibility for the locals is what I think makes this different.”

That’s State Representative Mark Huizenga. There are number bipartisan bills in both the Michigan House and Senate. The Walker Republican is sponsoring one of them.

“And it’s a little bit like the Going Pro program if you’re familiar with that where we empower the employer to help them get assistance to their employees right away.”

Just one of a number of bills offering housing tax incentives or trust funds assisting both employers and employees.