Traverse City Record-Eagle

Our Views

May 30, 2014

Editorial: Regional strategy needed to resolve regional issue

Affordable housing is an issue most people likely want resolved. But we can’t seem to figure out how to do it on a large enough scale to fix or even whittle down the problem.

It’s nigh on impossible for those who work in the region’s huge service industry to find a place they can afford to live in or close to Traverse City and their jobs.

For low-income families whot need more than a bedroom and a shared kitchen, it’s even worse. Rents are high, the housing stock is relatively small and the competition is intense.

That’s why it was such good news that state officials appeared willing to reinstate a $300,000 grant for the Depot Neighborhood project through the HomeStretch Nonprofit Housing Corp.

The background of what happened is complicated. State housing officials pulled the grant from HomeStetch but appear ready to reverse themselves now that HomeStetch executive director William Merry has resigned.

Nobody is willing to say what happened or why. The state and HomeStretch have asked Grand Traverse County to step in and act as grant and project administration for the nonprofit for the Depot project, and projects in Kingsley and Honor in Benzie County,

What happened must eventually be revealed, but what counts for now is that the Depot project goes forward.

HomeStretch and Habitat for Humanity Grand Traverse Region want to build affordable, low environmental impact housing south of Eighth Street between Franklin and Railroad streets.

Home-Stretch’s contribution to the Depot Neighborhood was to be five duplexes and a single home.

With the county’s assistance, it appears the project can move forward. That’s good news.

But the larger issue remains — how to create housing that a substantial portion of the workforce (mostly people who put in their 40 hours a week but still can’t afford a $700-a-month apartment) can afford.

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