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Northeast Michigan’s Housing Task Force

It’s no secret it’s difficult to find housing in northeast Michigan. Whether you’re looking to buy a house, or just find an apartment to rent, resources are scarce.

However, Alpena city manager Rachel Smolinski is heading up a housing task force, in order to get to the bottom of why there aren’t enough available places to live, and how they can solve this problem.

“This is no easy task;” said Smolinski. “It is a huge boulder to push up the hill. And so we need a lot of people who come from a variety of different backgrounds and work for different organizations in order to make a little bit of impact on this issue.”

The task force has been conferring for about a year now, and there are around 20 to 30 stakeholders. They’ve been looking to pull together some funding for a housing needs assessment.

“That’s really going to tell us currently what the market is for housing for different areas, and just give us data to back that up, so when we’re looking to attract developers and want to increase our housing units in the area, that we have data, solid data for that,” said Smolinski.

Different entities in the community such as the hospital, the Community Foundation, and some nonprofits have all taken an interest in the task force. It matters to those looking to recruit individuals to the area.

There are a couple different factors they’ve found contribute to the shortage, including lack of materials or labor shortages. The housing needs assessment will help the task force identify more factors.

“What we need to do is collect data first and educate ourselves, and then we can start to educate the public,” Smolinski said.

The housing task force meets every second Tuesday of every month, with February 14th being the next meeting.