No official universal definitions for the many terms of housing exist. For example, a list of the types of affordable housing might include: Workforce Housing, Attainable Housing, Low-Income Housing, Market-rate Housing, Supportive Housing, Transitional Housing, etc.
Currently LPEF’s focus is on, Affordable Workforce housing. A term that can refer to any form of housing including ownership of single or multi-family homes, as well as occupation of rental units. In addition, “Affordable Housing is a residence which requires no more than 30% of the household’s annual income to pay for total housing costs, including maintenance, utilities, etc., or a residence which can be purchased for three times the household’s annual income, or less.”
Definitions of Housing
In 2016, the Leelanau Peninsula Economic Foundation (LPEF) conducted a survey of over 132 businesses in the county to determine their constraints to doing business. The number one barrier, or 72% of the 132 respondents said, lack of workforce housing is their biggest barrier to doing business in the county.
In 2014, a Target Market Analysis for Leelanau County prepared by Networks Northwest analyzed the supply and demand for housing in the county. The report, under a conservative scenario, showed the need for 46 owner-occupied units and 88 renter-occupied units in the county for a total of 134 units for one year. Note: This report is three years old, which means today there is a need for 402 units.
These recent and historical studies and surveys have identified a shortage of housing options in the county as negatively impacting seasonal and year around employees and businesses.
Record tourist seasons of 2016 and 2017 caused the county to experience the worst shortage of available workforce housing in decades. Businesses pointed to the lack of affordable work force housing as the major contributor to the shortage.
Bottom line, if we don’t have affordable workforce housing, we don’t have an adequate workforce. If we don’t have and adequate workforce, we don’t have a stable economy.
The Leelanau County Board of Commissioners with broad community support, recognizing the need for solutions to the county’s housing problem, voted to establish a Housing Committee under the Planning Commission. As such, a representative from the LPEF sits on this committee. He is actively involved in the committee, which is now called the Housing Action Committee (HAC), and brings the results of the committee to the LPEF Board to discuss and help promote HAC goals.
HAC is actively pursuing an Action Plan for Housing Ready Communities. The goal of the plan is to put in place a program that assists Leelanau County’s villages and townships in order to develop affordable work force housing plans and policies. Results of the LPEF business survey were published in local newspapers and Board members of LPEF went back to their respective local Chambers of Commerce, and Village and Township Boards to present and discuss these findings.