Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

June 25, 2014

Editorial: Housing task force needs a united front to succeed

If the definition of insanity (as Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain or whomever reportedly said) is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, what to say about continued efforts to create affordable housing for the Grand Traverse area?

Don’t do the same thing.

A new regional housing task force is trying.

The Traverse City Commission has agreed to join with Grand Traverse County, the city’s Housing Commission, Garfield Township and East Bay Township to create a task force to encourage the development of affordable housing.

Backers argue this is different from many past efforts because this time, the people doing the work will be elected city, county, and township officials who may actually be able to influence public policy.

That’s a major change from past efforts, which were mounted mostly by people who may have had great ideas but virtually zero pull — or push — in the right places.

“All of those past committees were very different,” Traverse City Mayor Michael Estes said. “They were people with good intentions but they couldn’t do anything.”

The task force will be comprised of two city commissioners, two Grand Traverse County commissioners, representatives from the city’s Housing Commission, Garfield Township and East Bay Township.

The new task force will become the go-to group for developers or others with housing proposals, officials said.

A draft created by county officials said the group’s objectives will be to encourage the development of new housing choices, coordinating private and public funding sources and finding development partners.

And make no mistake, creating places to live for people who work in the region’s dominant service economy is critical. We’re becoming a two-tiered community, with service workers banned from the city because they can’t afford to live here. That’s not acceptable.

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