Partners launch bipartisan housing agenda

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Housing Michigan, a coalition of over 20 statewide organizations and dozens of other regional groups, including the Home Builders Association of Michigan, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Municipal League, Housing Next and many others, unveiled its legislative agenda last week in Lansing.

The agenda is focused on addressing the state’s housing crisis through a series of bipartisan legislative initiatives.

“(It) was a good day for Michigan as we addressed in a bipartisan manner a very serious issue — the state’s growing housing crisis,” said Dawn Crandall, incoming executive vice president for government relations for the Home Builders Association of Michigan. “We cannot stress enough the urgency with which we need to focus on the legislative initiatives introduced (last week). We represent a diverse coalition of partners, but we speak with one voice because so much of our state’s economic future depends on our success.”

“Our members have said that housing supply and affordability is a critical workforce, talent and quality of life issue in West Michigan,” said Joshua Lunger, senior director of government affairs for the Grand Rapids Chamber. “Supporting a healthy housing market and the supply of attainable housing will have a positive impact on communities, residents and job providers across Michigan.”

The Housing Michigan Coalition is focused on creating and expanding tools for local governments to support the development or rehabilitation of housing supply that is attainable to more Michigan citizens. The common principles around the various tax credit and proposed initiatives include:

Local control and flexibility

Local units will be able to decide many of the terms of proposed programs, including affordability requirements, length of any credits and where assistance can be applied (e.g., allowing up to 120% of area median income and program term lengths).

Workforce housing

These tools will provide the most benefit for residents who have difficulty obtaining market-rate housing but have more income than would allow them to qualify for “affordable housing” assistance.

Housing Michigan introduced the following legislative initiatives:

Employer-supported housing credit

Senate bill # 360, 361

House bill # 4649, 465

Sponsored by Sen. Roger Victory, R-Hudsonville, and Rep. Mark Huizenga, R-Walker

This legislation incentivizes employers to engage in a meaningful way to support their employees accessing housing near their workplace. The strength of this approach is it essentially provides matching state resources in support of housing in areas that have a proven need.

Rather than relying on the state to determine where and what type of housing is needed, the employer will invest in a determined need by contributing down payment assistance, direct support for housing development or through a housing trust fund to support their employees who earn up to 120% of the area median income.

Attainable housing and rehabilitation act

Senate bill # 362

House bill # 4647

Sponsored by Sen. Winnie Brinks, D-Grand Rapids and Rep. Terry Sabo, D-Laketon Township

Modeled after commercial redevelopment and rehabilitation acts, this tool will enable local governments to support and encourage investment into the rehabilitation of attainable housing in Michigan communities.

Re-establish code promulgation committee

Senate bill # 363

House bill # 4647

Sponsored by Sen. Kevin Daley, R-Lum, and Rep. Joe Tate, D-Detroit

The state of Michigan promulgates a new state construction code every three years. Prior to the code being adopted, it goes through the promulgation process.

For more than four decades the code review process has been completed by a wide range of individuals engaged in the residential construction industry. The prior administration changed that process and the review went from a board committee to a committee of two individuals within the department of Bureau of Construction Codes.

Expand Neighborhood Enterprise Zones to additional local government units

Senate bill # 364

House bill # 4646

Sponsored by Sen. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield, and Rep. Kyra Harris Bolden, D-Southfield

Neighborhood Enterprise Zones provide for the development and rehabilitation of residential housing. They have been used to support investment in infill revitalization for owner-occupied housing and mixed-use buildings in certain Michigan cities since 1992. This can include condominiums and two-family homes provided that they are homestead facilities.

Originally only “eligible distressed communities” could use this tool as defined within the Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act (PA 146, 2000) and eligible properties were required to be within a downtown revitalization district. With so many communities across Michigan facing an urgent shortage of housing, this bill would extend the opportunity to use NEZs to all Michigan cities, villages and townships.

For detailed information on the legislative agenda, coalition partners and background information, visit Housing Michigan’s website.

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