Through a competitive grant, Sleeping Bear Gateways will address the housing shortage in Benzie and Leelanau counties.
They’ve been awarded $90,000 from the USDA Rural Business Development Program to support workforce housing. It’s been tough in those areas to find people work and live their year round as well as workers for seasonal positions.
Sleeping Bear gateways is a non-profit that works to serve the infrastructure needs of the park and the nearby communities and this grant will help them deal with the employee shortage as the National Lakeshore’s visitor headcount comes close to 1.7 million people every year.
It’s a problem not only facing those counties, but also much of northern Michigan. “It’s become not only just affordable workforce housing but seasonal housing because they’re interrelated,” said Bill Witler, president of the Sleeping Bear Gateways Council. “If you take a home and use it just seasonally that doesn’t allow year round residency and people to move in and kids to go to schools.”
The grant was secured by the help of the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation and Rotary Charities of Traverse City.