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Early state budget proposal includes $300,000 for northwest Michigan housing initiative

Tom Rumble

An early version of the state budget passed by the House Appropriations Committee last week includes $300,000 for an affordable housing initiative based in Traverse City.

The non-profit Housing North put in the request for funding to state lawmakers. Funds would go toward their “Housing Ready” initiative

It focuses on revising outdated zoning laws and bridging the gap between developers and local governments.

Yarrow Brown is the executive director of Housing North.

She said the money will go toward giving her staff the ability to take Housing Ready plans into more rural communities.

"And so we're not trying to replace staff or we're trying to supplement and take off some of the workload in a sense to be able to have help these communities focus on housing," Brown told WCMU.

The funding is part of the preliminary Michigan Labor and Economic Opportunity budget. Critics refer to this type of funding as lawmakers “pet projects” or “pork funds.”

"We have developers who want to come and work in our community, but it's not super developer friendly. So how do we work with that community to bridge that gap between what the developer wants to do what the community wants," said Brown.

Rick Brewer has been news director at WCMU since February 2024.