Housing continues to be an issue in Northern Michigan, and Charlevoix is feeling the shortage.
Charlevoix Mayor Luther Kurtz says one of the reasons for Charlevoix’s housing shortage is due to the amount of short-term rentals and seasonal residents in the area.
“[Northern Michigan] is such a desirable location for seasonable homeowners and vacationers to come. So they take up some of the housing stock that would have otherwise been used for year-round residents,” Kurtz explains.
He says the shortage of housing has lead to a shortage in the workforce, which could end up hurting the city’s economy.
“We value the people that visit our community and stay in short term rentals and seasonal homeowners, but we need to help find a balance between year-round living and the way those short-term rentals operate,” Kurtz says.
Local employers are struggling to hire people from waitstaff to teachers. And although The Clothing Company in Charlevoix hasn’t felt the shortage, Manager Annie Oosthuizen says she’s heard of many businesses that have. She says Charlevoix needs more housing in order to thrive.
“If we don’t have people working here we’re not going to have a thriving downtown and greater area,” Oosthuizen says.
Kurtz says the city is working with local housing advocacy groups to find a solution. Mayor Kurtz is a board member of a new local housing advocacy group called Housing Yes Charlevoix. The group promotes and supports housing projects as well as educates residents on the benefits of more housing.
“Everybody in this community realizes this is a crisis, and they support the idea of doing it, and Housing Yes Charlevoix helps facilitate that positive support for these ideas to the decision makers,” Kurtz states.
And although Kurtz time as mayor is up at the end of the year, he says his work finding housing for people in Charlevoix continues.
“There’s no lame ducks in Charlevoix, so after the election I’m out of there. I think our community is going to keep asking their representative about this. And we have a really good counsel that’s going to keep working towards this, and I’ll be encouraging them on the sidelines,” Kurtz says.
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