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Michigan House committee considering package of affordable housing bills

New home construction wood frame photo
Great Valley Center is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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.

Lunger explains, “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,” said 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.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.