State grants to make country living even more affordable in Michigan

By Kyle Kaminski

December 14, 2023

Millions of dollars in state funds are helping dozens of Michigan towns build more affordable housing—and the investments could help rural communities more than most.

MICHIGAN—A new state-funded program is investing $5 million to help build more homes and make housing more affordable in several cities, villages, and townships across Michigan.

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) last week announced a grant program to provide up to $50,000 each to at least 100 local governments across Michigan, specifically so they can develop concrete plans designed to boost the supply of affordable housing in their communities. It’s called the Housing Readiness Incentive Grant Program.

The concept is simple: State officials said the funds can be used to cover any costs associated with adopting land use policies, master plan updates, zoning amendments, and other regulatory changes—as long as they’re designed to encourage the construction of more affordable homes.

“This new program will put state funding directly into addressing local barriers to new and affordable housing solutions,” MSHDA Director Amy Hovey said in a statement this month. “We heard repeatedly about the importance of streamlining local rules to help build more housing, add density, rehabilitate existing stock, and across the board address affordability.”

And according to housing advocates, the program will make a big difference for Michigan’s more rural villages and townships, which have reportedly struggled more than larger cities with attracting and retaining residents because of a lack of affordable housing options on the market.

“We really need resources for our rural communities who don’t have a lot of staff or capacity to be able to enact housing ready changes or zoning changes that would help bring more housing opportunity,” Housing North Director Yarrow Brown told 9&10 News last week. “This is a huge opportunity for our region. This will really help those communities that haven’t started yet.

About $2 million in funding will be prioritized to cities, villages, and townships that have already been designated by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. as a “redevelopment ready community.” The remaining $3 million will be set aside for towns without that designation.

State officials said they will begin accepting applications for the grant program next month, and the funding will be awarded to towns on a rolling basis until the full $5 million has been spent.

“The program will align state investment directly with the local governments that need help most,” Hovey said in a statement. “These problems didn’t crop up overnight, but we’re going to act decisively as we continue to identify new, innovative solutions to confront the housing crisis.”

READ MORE: Want to live in the country? Michigan’s small towns are getting bigger.

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Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

CATEGORIES: POLITICS | RURAL

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