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Whitmer: State stepping up affordable housing efforts

AP Photo/Al Goldis

Governor Whitmer says the state will tap into federal funds to accelerate efforts to address a critical shortage in affordable housing.

She says that means building more houses and rental units and making them less expensive to rent or own

Governor Gretchen Whitmer wants to use hundreds of millions of dollars to build low-income housing and to equip new homes with solar panels and energy-efficient appliances.

Whitmer made the announcement Wednesday at the Detroit Regional Chamber Policy Conference on Mackinac Island, where business and not-for-profit leaders say the cost and availability of housing is a top concern.

“In other words, we know that the rent is too damn high and we don’t have enough affordable housing,” Whitmer said.

Whitmer said she wants to accelerate plans to build more houses and rental units and make them less expensive to rent or own. She said the state will also offer help to install solar panels on homes and purchase new energy-efficient appliances.

“Housing and energy are inextricably linked,” said the Democratic governor.

“These upgrades are a big deal,” she said. “Eighty six percent of the energy used in a home goes to heating, cooling, boiling water, cooking and refrigeration. Making these upgrades are going to save more than 28 thousand households a heck of a lot of money and improve the quality of life.”

Affordable housing advocates cheered the announcement.

Michigan League for Public Policy CEO Monique Stanton said the affordable housing shortage is a statewide problem, but different regions have different needs.

“In vacation communities, you have high rates of rental properties so that people working in the community can’t afford to live there,” said Stanton. “In Detroit, you have issues of housing stock and just not enough affordable housing. So, it’s a very complicated issue. It's not one single policy choice.”

The funds would come from the federal government. The governor has set a goal of generating half the state’s electricity using wind, solar and nuclear energy by 2030. She said that will not only make energy more affordable but more reliable. She said affordable housing and energy would also help reverse Michigan’s trend of sluggish population growth.

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