by Scott McClallen
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced plans to spend $100 million of federal stimulus money on affordable housing.
According to the governor’s claims, the proposal would assist 6,000 Michiganders, produce 2,000 rental housing units, and leverage an additional $380 million in private funding while creating 1,600 jobs.
“This new housing investment will make a huge difference in the lives of Michiganders because a home is the foundation for long-term prosperity,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Investments in housing infrastructure are crucial as we build our economy back better from the pandemic and put Michigan back to work in thousands of good-paying jobs. This transformational investment will put Michiganders first by expanding access to affordable and attainable housing, helping close equity gaps, and supporting the development of vibrant communities across the state.”
At Citizen Robotics, a next-generation housing manufacturing facility, Whitmer announced the proposal for the Michigan Housing and Community Development Fund (HCDF)
“By leveraging additional private capital, we will be able to amplify this major investment to its fullest extent,” MI State Housing Development Authority Acting Executive Director Gary Heidel said in a statement. “The current magnitude of the housing shortage is so large that solving the supply problem will take significant coordination of both public and private resources, coordination that the Housing and Community Development Fund was designed to do.”
Established by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority Act of 1966, The HCDF develops and coordinates public and private resources to create affordable housing. The legislature hasn’t continuously funded it.
HCDF can provide grants and loans to finance a wide range of housing-related projects, including acquisition, rehabilitation, construction, development and predevelopment, preservation of existing housing, community development projects, insurance, down payment assistance, security deposit assistance.
Some back the plan.
“Communities throughout our state are facing a significant shortage of attainable housing,” Dan Gilmartin, Michigan Municipal League CEO and executive director, said in a statement. “The financial support being sought by Governor Whitmer will benefit people, places, and businesses. This is an important step toward leveraging our available resources to begin addressing our housing needs. We look forward to partnering on this issue and similar strategic proposals for infrastructure, local fiscal stability, community and economic development, and public health and safety in ways that support economic prosperity for everyone.”
Investment in the fund would allow MSHDA to target housing for those transitioning from low-income into middle-income housing.
“Small businesses say potential employees are often priced out of the market when it comes to rents or reasonable mortgages. And it’s no wonder Michigan needs 200,000 more housing units to meet the need. The governor’s proposal is a wise investment, considering every $1 of public money attracts $11 from private investors to create such housing. This will create jobs, support working families and stabilize our communities,” Luke Forrest, executive director of the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan, said in a statement.
MSHDA will develop an allocation plan for the HCDF and a formula for disbursement based on poverty rates.
“Builders are not building or renovating homes that people with average, or low incomes can afford to buy due to the high cost of supplies and high demand from buyers who can afford homes at the $300,000 price point and above,” CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Michigan Sandy Pearson said in a statement. “There are also many people with limited income and limited abilities, such as our veterans, seniors, and people with disabilities, living in homes that need repairs. Habitat for Humanity builders can partner with more households if the funding is in place and ensure our partner families have a safe, secure, and energy efficient home in which to live, learn, work, and thrive.”
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.
Photo “Gov. Whitmer” by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (via Facebook).