Opinion | Why Michigan's complex housing issues don’t have easy solution

David Allen

David Allen is chief marketing analyst for the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). He's also lead researcher on the Michigan Statewide Housing Needs Assessment.

This year, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) commissioned two studies to evaluate and better understand housing and home ownership across the state. As the first studies of their kind to be conducted in over a decade, The Michigan Homeownership Study and The Michigan Statewide Housing Needs Assessment delivered incredible insights while scientifically demonstrating what we already knew to be anecdotally true. 

Namely, Michigan is not meeting affordable housing demands for residents across the state.  

Consider these statistics: Any household spending more than 30 percent of its income on housing-related costs is considered cost-burdened. The median household income in Michigan is $50,803, which provides enough money to afford a $175,000 house, but the average price for a newly built single-family home is more than $330,000. According to Zillow, the median listing price for a pre-owned home through July 31, 2019 is $194,900 – well above what the average household can afford without being cost-burdened. 

Unfortunately, the solution isn’t as simple as just creating more affordable housing – which would be akin to putting a bandage on a broken leg. In fact, solving housing challenges throughout the state doesn’t always come down to enabling affordable homeownership. Rental reimbursement programs are a better fit in many parts of the state, while economic development tools can help local businesses make certain residential areas more attractive.

Why? Because every region of the state faces unique challenges. While some overarching themes exist throughout the state, distinct challenges at the local level require thoughtful and diverse solutions. The nuances of the housing market in a growing city such as Grand Rapids, for example, are vastly different from those in an aging suburb such as Westland. 

According to MSHDA’s research, here are some of the wide-ranging challenges impacting communities at a local level: 

  • In some areas, available units are older, and they do not have the layouts or amenities today’s homebuyers are looking for. Many vacant units have not been maintained and will require costly renovations. 
  • Many communities with available housing have a declining population, as well as fewer business and economic opportunities to attract new residents. 
  • Regions with a combination of high housing demand and supply shortages have skyrocketing prices, making housing less affordable for existing and prospective residents. 
  • Barriers in local zoning and other regulations can prolong the housing development process, creating fewer available units and higher price points. 
  • Strict lending practices, growing student-debt loads, and home costs outpacing wages are making it more difficult to purchase a home.

This means there is no single “Michigan affordable housing crisis.” Instead, there are varied housing challenges that need to be addressed in each region, city, suburb and rural community. At the macro level, solving these diverse challenges may seem like a monumental task. However, individual communities have several proven tools and programs at their disposal to enact positive change:

  • Finance Tools: Access to capital is essential in ensuring people can buy homes. MSHDA provides down-payment assistance for first-time home buyers, but different markets require different finance tools. 
  • Rehabilitation & Preservation Tools: In many cases, the cost to rehabilitate a home is higher than the actual purchase price. This is a common barrier for buyers. Rehabilitation funding and neighborhood preservation tools can help bring these “fixer-upper” units back on the market. 
  • Land Use & Zoning Tools: Communities can have a stronger voice in the types of homes built locally. Adjusting local land use, zoning, and permitting regulations can help with predictability of approvals, speed up delivery of units, and mitigate developer risk. 
  • Economic Development Tools: People want to live close to job opportunities. A combination of local opportunities and affordable housing helps attract and retain employees. Economic development tools enable the public and private sectors to act together, helping businesses thrive and employees find housing they can afford

While there may not be a single solution to the affordable housing crisis, it’s a problem we can all work together to solve. From community leaders to developers to organizations like MSHDA, we all need to play a role in identifying the precise blend of solutions that will address the unique challenges impacting affordable housing in communities across the state.


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Fri, 10/11/2019 - 7:59am

Our system of School assignment by Zip Code has an under appreciated impact on housing. Two identical homes 100 yards apart can vary by 20% in value because of the school district one is in verses the other along with more insidious distortions . Another reason to break up this system.
The second issue unmentioned by the author is the effect of the various building codes on building costs. Our building codes no longer reflect the simple objective of reasonable safety or energy efficiency. Code generation has become as a permanent reg generation activity, occupation and business where economic pay back and reasonable risk no longer applies, where self perpetuation of code making bodies is all that matters superseding any sense of cost benefit.

middle of the mit
Sat, 10/12/2019 - 8:57pm

The rate of taxation only has to with the school district because of how society self-segregates. Those two houses 100 yards apart are no different than my neighborhood.

In your scenario those are two identical houses with basically the same income. What you are not taking into account is what the rest of the district looks like or earns beyond that house 100 yards away. Could be worlds away. How do I know?

I live a few miles out of town in a neighborhood that has about 500 or so houses in it. In my hood, we have cable, the fastest internet I have encountered, and natural gas. Along those few miles of road and the people that live less than 200 yards from me?

NOTHING! Unless you are willing to pay by the foot to have those utilities supplied to you. But those same people get to go to the same school.

You are complaining about autonomy. Should every school district get the same funding no matter how much the property in those areas are worth and what the people in those areas say? I would be a firm supporter of a more equal system where everyone in the State gets a good education with similar equipment and amenities. That seems to be what you are seeking, isn't it?

Codes are for safety. And yes some of them are obtuse, but ingenuity, creativity and innovation are what drives codes. That and the fact that the businesses that come up with those innovations charge for them. And now we are back to what is governments purpose? You want the nanny state to protect you from "perceived" threats like cannabis. But you don't care why it is that homes in Southern California are upright and with no structural damage while homes in Northern Mexico are demolished by the same earthquake.

Are your perceptions worse than reality?

And who writes those codes? And why and for who?

Ask yourself who benefits? Does government benefit when it has to come to your house and check these things? A little? Who gains a lot?

You don't pay the government to keep up with the regulations. You go to a store and purchase products to keep up with the regulation.

That's the problem with conservatives, they always blame government but never follow the money trail to where the money ends up.

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 1:37pm

Codes and regulations should be about performance of those regulated by being a source of 'best' available knowledge.

Are you suggesting that your internet access and such were free, that no one had to pay for the installation?
Are you suggesting that there should be no boundaries to school districts, that school tax rates across the state should be the same, that local districts shouldn't have discretion in how that money is spent?
It seems you are saying that their is a certain exclusivity or special benefit by living where you live vs those nearby, does that mean rather then allowing people a choice in where they live [paying up for that choice] it should be done by lottery and leave it to the government to select your house? You seem to want a homogenous society, you don't even seem comfortable for neighborhoods to have influence on their schools.
Where you see exclusively of school selection based on address, in my town and county the residents have choice of schools [13 public school districts] there are hundreds of students attending districts other then where they live.
It isn't about blaming anyone, it is about accountability and if the 'conservatives' don't speak out on the weaknesses and failings of government who will? When have you ever heard a 'liberal'/'progressive' question the overreach or inefficiencies of a government program that spends other peoples money? When have you heard of government actively being transparent without a push from those outside the government, do you even know how private businesses have been actively transparent for decades, how private businesses have encourage the use of their models of transparency [to the point of having it included in regulations]? Again you distill everything to money, you fail to show interest in the means and methods, the results, in the performance of programs? Follow the money is about placing blame not about effectiveness or results. If you follow the money you will ignore what was used to justify getting the money, what was spent [legitimately] to develop and operate the programs, what was achieved [or not] through the programs, at best it might mention what wasn't done but primarily it will blame someone for any waste of money. You can hope someone will end up in court, most likely nothing else changes.

middle of the mit
Mon, 10/14/2019 - 9:03pm


What codes should be and what they are are two different things. It's politics. And like Matt says "perception". Are you going to tell me and everyone else that the Devos family has less say in MI politics than you or me? Do you believe the same for any big business or wealthy individuals? The poorest has the same access as those I just mentioned? You can't be that naive.

As for my example of cable? Did I pay for it? Yes I pay my monthly bill. But if a neighbor who moves in next to me has to have a new line run to get cable service? NO! You don't pay the cable company for that. The company picks up the bill because of the volume of customers in the area and you are going to be paying almost indefinitely for cable as long as you live there.

This my friend is WHY FOX News will never leave the liberal taxhole of Manhattan. What do the people who live a few miles from me and don't get their roads plowed in the winter do? They drive through it or they move. It isn't even about how much money I make or how much I am worth. It has more to do with how many people are in your area. The question you forgot to ask was this; Why does business not cater to those who live in the hinterlands? I've been trying to get you to come the conclusion on your own but you obfuscate and start talking about corporate culture, employees needs and wants (how many companies take that into account?) and other meaningless things.

Yet you refuse to accept the truth. NO company is going to go to a place where there aren't enough customers to make money off of. It's your own conservative economic law and you refuse to acknowledge it. Why?

Then you beat me up because you think I live in an exclusive area. Dude, I live up north. There are exclusive neighborhoods up here, I don't live in one. I live in a middle class area. And aren't you saying that me saying school district funding should be more equal, then you saying those districts should have say how tax dollars are spent mean that exclusive neighborhoods should be able to keep their funds? Why am I horrible because I want " my exclusive neighborhood" to share funds while you are telling me that "your exclusive neighborhood" should be able to keep all of their money? Matt was the one that was complaining about the difference between school funding in districts less 100 yards away.

There are two school districts in my town. And unless you live near the line, and our lines are nowhere near as close as yours, everyone goes to the same school regardless of income or anything. And I will guarantee you that your schools are funded by thousands more per student than my schools. Shouldn't we get some credit? We educate our kids with less money. I thought that was how productivity was measured, but now I am unsure. And why do these wealthy districts need so much money to educate their kids? The conservatives on this board an around the country say that is just throwing money at teachers. Could you please lead by showing us that we don't need money to educate kids? Or are you going to tell us that isn't how it's done?

[[When have you heard of government actively being transparent without a push from those outside the government, do you even know how private businesses have been actively transparent for decades, how private businesses have encourage the use of their models of transparency [to the point of having it included in regulations]?]]

Private business transparency huh? Hasn't the public gotten a good dose of education on non disclosure agreements? Maybe you could share some of this disclosure with the staff of Bridge and we could find some of the deadbeat businesses that left us with superfund sites to clean up with taxpayer money.

As for me distilling everything down to money? That is what conservatives do. Once again the only thing that can be helped with more money is throwing it at bankers and businesses. And what is wrong with following the money trail and why does it mean that I don't care about the means, methods or results? Isn't that what forensic accountants do? Can you not find a good deal of all of that information and the bad ones that are swiping funds just by looking at the books?

Just like you and everyone else We all want our tax dollars spent diligently and properly. Some just believe that government can't do a dang thing right. But they think private business is wonderful. Get some transparency from facebook about what they do with your information. Did you give them permission to sell your information? To anyone that is willing to pay for it? How about Equifax? And what ever happened to Wells Fargo and their opening accounts for their customers their customers never opened?

Fri, 10/18/2019 - 11:12am

Codes are an example of the weakness in government, the lack of clear purpose for programs and agencies. The lack of well-defined purpose creates a vacuum of direction and accountability which prevents success [solving problems and leading issues]. This vacuum has allowed personal politics to control the spending and lost confidence in government.
“…employees needs and wants (how many companies take that into account?) and other meaningless things.” That view seems inconsistent with what Facebook and Google and others earn from selling the data about the way individuals act [shopping, searching, traveling, living].
“I've been trying to get you to come the conclusion on your own but you obfuscate and start talking about corporate culture, employees needs and wants (how many companies take that into account?) and other meaningless things.” As I recall there has been much made of how high tech firms providing recreational facilities [gaming, exercise, relaxing] in the workplace, unlimited access to foods [additional to regular meals], those seem to be addressing the wants of employees. Companies provide medical care benefits, life insurance, supplemental disability insurance, educational benefits, supplemental housing assistance, moving assistance, all those seem to be addressing wants. Even in the latest UAW/GM contract reporting describes such expanded need coverage. I know there are employers that don’t provide such benefits, but there is much to indicate many employers do include needs and wants in the how they encouraged people to stay. It is much like how you spend your money, they greater value you get the more you are willing to pay. An employer is much more likely to provide additional benefits if they are getting higher return/greater value from the efforts of the employee. I wonder why you never mention any role/responsibilities of the employee; you don’t mention the value of the work ethic, knowledge and skills, or anything done for compensation, why? A common concept is compensation for value provided, increasing compensation for increasing value provided seems, but one that is limited to private industry and not to government, why?
“NO company is going to go to a place where there aren't enough customers to make money off of.” Another uninformed view; it is not uncommon for a business to enter a market [new geographic, new products/services, new customer categories]. Many businesses, those who have succeeded for generations, which have a purpose of sustainability, those driven to grow and change, develop new markets, markets that they anticipate will provide sufficient business to support them. Amazon was founded on this principle, Apple started with a product nobody even knew how to use and now they have a market value greater than a trillion dollars. Those business that avoid the risks [geographic, product/service] risk failure.
“Dude, I live up north.” I always heard the north is a special area even an exclusive area to live, its beauty, serenity, the recreational opportunities, a place where many people [even with average], own second homes, go for getaway vacations. M-23 north past Bay City seemed special and such a fine place to live.
“I will guarantee you that your schools are funded by thousands more per student than my schools.” If you listen to our school board, school Superintendent, they are telling us that they need thousands more for the students, and this is after closing of a half dozen schools [selling three, tearing down one].
“And why do these wealthy districts need so much money to educate their kids?”, They may not have a need, but you talk of wants so why not because they want to provide added money? Why not as a demonstration of their value for education and what they are willing to sacrifice to validate their message to their children and others of education’s value. How much time do you think the parents in the ‘wealthy’ districts invest in their children’s education? In each district we have lived the schools were supported by property taxes and all districts taxed. However, our children succeeded in both a low taxed district and a higher taxed district independent of the money the schools spent. We moved to a higher taxed district when our girls were in high school, I ask the oldest [a senior at the time of the move] after her first year of college what was the difference in the schools. She told me the students, the one in the higher taxed district were more like the kids at college. At the higher taxed school she talked about how the expectations of the students were about studying, about how the social structure was formed around school work [local library was open ‘til 9 every night, how friends would go to the library as a group, that when someone had to miss a group activity because of school work it was accepted, good grade were expect, college acceptance was expected. The teachers were no better than the lower taxing schools. Obviously, it wasn’t the money spent that determine their academic success it was what they did, their desire to learn, their willingness to sacrifice to learn, their studying. Consider your school experience, in each of your classes [where everything was the same except the individual students] wasn’t there a distribution of academic success in each class [or did all get A’s or F’s?] and didn’t everyone know roughly who would do well at the beginning of each year because they knew the individual students and who would work at learning and it wasn’t about the teacher? Why is it always about money and ignore the students role/responsibility? Why only money and not how it will be spent to changes in the classroom or changes to the learning process?
Business transparency happen in everyday ways; self-assessments provided to government agencies, financial reports to the SEC, drug efficacy to the FDA from drug companies, even opening operations to the public for such things as having products certified kosher. Public open house visits for neighbors/the public, inviting in local government agencies such as fire, building, taxing, police, etc. There are many ways in the normal day to day activities that involve interactions with the outsiders that are forms of transparency.
Superfund sites are a matter of public record, contact the State or EPA. In most cases the governments goes after the deep pockets rather than who created the site to pay for much of the cleanup, even if they did nothing at the site.
Am I a ‘conservative?’ Do I have a single focus on money or do I raise concerns about results, about means/methods, about culture, etc.?
As for wanting your tax dollars spent diligently, when there aren’t purpose and performance metrics to verify the effectiveness of the spending wants/needs are unlikely to be achieved.
As for believing or not believing in government, when using business as a reference, it is only natural to have more confidence in business because when they fail they end and those who own and make them work lose. When governments fail they continue, who other than those serve that suffer? If you consider Flint failed, how has it mattered? Look around you community have are there empty buildings left by failed businesses?
Many of the people from the top down no longer work for Wells Fargo. The shareholders at the time of those practices lost significant ‘wealth’ in the fall of their shares of the company. The organization also paid to the government and others much in penalties. Wells Fargo made drastic changes to their practices and received much attention and ongoing external scrutiny and control. Equifax paid fines, lost business, market value, what had happened to the IRS with it purposeful denial of organizational approval, what happened to those who made the decision of denial of service because they didn’t like the politics of the organizations? You may feel Equifax failed a responsibility of trust and they received a consequence of the failure, but what consequence of failure of trust did the IRS suffer, what consequence did those at the IRS that decided to break the trust and deny due process to organization simply because they didn’t like their politics?

Fri, 11/08/2019 - 11:09am

money trail ..public Housing ...pays no property tax...would $ 150 000
pays Pilotprogram......$ 40 000 ......allowed by State legislature and city hall.
CUTS to locally-Funded senior services ,,may 2012 ,.........
$ 7 to $ 19 million per year.
67 of Michigan 83 counties rely on local senior millages
STATE funding Cuts from 2009-2011 amount to $ 10 million in community programs through OFFICE of Services of AGING...
lost Revenue.( SB 1072)PPT bill

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 10:01am

We don not have a housing crisis, we have an income crisis. The fact of the matter is that most Michigan citizens simply do not make enough money to make housing affordable. And this will continue until we solve the income/wealth disparity in the US. We can not keep shifting wealth from the middle bottom to the upper echelon. It is unfair for the state or federal government to ask the most of us who are paying our taxes and struggling with adequate housing to pay to subsidize the housing industry. If we solve the income problem, the housing problem will solve itself.

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 4:45pm

Where don't disparities in wealth exist? Even in high welfare benefit countries in Europe, homes are so expensive the poor aren't likely to come close to buying one, so they all rent. A safe bet that US poor have a higher home ownership rate than they do.

middle of the mit
Sat, 10/12/2019 - 9:34pm

This is why demanding that the poor pay the same tax rate as the wealthy won't work in your favor.

You are asking people who can barely afford a place to live let alone a vehicle,(unless that is where they live) to pay the same rate and call that equal taxation. The parable of the old lady and her two denarius should tell you all you need to know about that.

The poor pay the same income tax as everyone else and more on property tax (they don't get a homestead tax deduction, unless you think the landlord doesn't pass that on. Yet they put a LARGER percentage of their income towards a place to live.

But hey! The poor in America live better than Kings did according to FOX News. If that is true, then how much better do the wealthy live?

And shouldn't we be calling them Kings then?

It's getting back to that point. How far are you going to let it go? 'till you are effected?

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 1:35am

Have you even consider when the path to the gap difference begins? The biggest contributor to disparity in income is the personal education gap, why don't you mention requiring the 'poor' stay in school and earn a degree that is in demand that can help to close the income gap? What do you think the difference is between a 'poor' kids dropping out and kids earning an in demand STEM degree? Do you think there is a difference in the kids ['poor' and 'wealthy'], is their ability, is their teachers, is it how to learn, or do you think money does replace a student's effort?
As for the taxes, they aren't the same in my town the property taxes are based on the nature of the house they own, or on the size of their income, or on how many miles they drive, or on how much they spend and how they spend it.
And when you talk about living like 'kings' it is where in the world they are living or even where in America. Rural living is less likely to use government services than a city dweller, awareness being just one of the factors, a pride in self reliance being another? If you like in a more rural area I suspect you even have a bit of pride in your ability to live more on your own knowledge and skills than turning to others.
I can assure you that the medical care provided to the 'poor' in my community is so good that it wasn't available at any price to the 'wealthiest' in my youth, so when talking about the gap between the 'wealthy' and the 'poor' why don't you consider what is the quality of life and lifestyle and not just money? In my town it isn't surprising when of lesser means will go to the ER rather than an urgent care, because the ER will treat all and not always get paid, even for non emergency care, while an urgent care will register them and get how they will pay while they are waiting for treatment.
You never seem to consider personal choices when you talk about the 'gap'? It seems we hear much about the higher incomes for degreed people, we hear about how better lifestyle choices by the degreed people, we hear about how degreed people are more likely to be working at being fit and about their seeking medical checkups more frequently. I wonder why you don't seem to include that in your considerations on the income gap. Why is all you can see is money and the gap and never see the role/responsibilities the individual had in that gap and other gaps such as health and education? Is the individual impact on their life and inconvenient truth for you?
Rather than invest all the energy in a single number [income] it maybe more fruitful to look at all the contributing factors that affect people's lives including what they do, what choices they make to find the things we can develop the means and methods for them changing their own lives or helping their children change their lives.
A bit of my perspective, I grew up in the shadow of Eloise in Westland [our home was 750 sqft] and I have lived in county at the southern side of northern Michigan.

middle of the mit
Tue, 10/15/2019 - 7:38am

I'm pretty much sure I am done trying to have a conversation with you and Matt and Kevin. Why?
None of you will answer without platitudes why FOX News or any other major company doesn't leave their urban liberal taxhole and come out to the green pastures of rural America.

Matt hates the nanny State unless he wants the blue collar cops to keep him safe from things that he "perceives" as threats whether or not they are actual threats. And my problem with Kevin is the reason I am done talking with you. This little gem right here.

[[Rural living is less likely to use government services than a city dweller, awareness being just one of the factors, a pride in self reliance being another? If you like in a more rural area I suspect you even have a bit of pride in your ability to live more on your own knowledge and skills than turning to others.]]

But how do I prove to you that we up here do use those services? Because if I show proof, you will accuse of playing politics. And I am going to accuse you of reading this here website and not comprehending or believing anything they report on.



[[Rural counties were slated for a pass too

Bill backers originally wanted to exempt recipients who live in counties with unemployment rates over 8.5 percent.

In March, that covered 17 northern Michigan counties where 3.3 percent of the state’s Medicaid population live. The exemption would not go away until unemployment in those counties hit 5 percent (which in many has not happened since 2000.)

The exemption has proved so controversial that the bill’s main sponsor, Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, told Michigan Radio last week that he intends to remove it. ]]


That is the article where Kevin and Matt tell you that Appalachia and northern Michigan, full of republicans are faking disability.

The only government services the "proudly self-reliant" use less up here are local government services. Public transportation? We have it but it takes a long time. Homeless shelters, battered women shelters? None existent unless you go to a higher population center. What is it about higher population centers that allow these services?

And to try to compare what life was like even a hundred years ago to defend what you do to those that are lessor than you today is disgusting. And as far as "individual responsibility", First I have no desire to see equal outcomes for everyone. Second yes people to have take responsibility for what they do and how they live. But here is where you fail with that. First, not everyone can be a doctor or lawyer. And without those people without degrees, your cars don't get built. Your homes don't get built. And now we are seeing that you don't even want to pay them enough to live in the area they are needed to work in. If the job you want done isn't paying enough to help that person stay around you are failing your employee and eventually yourself when you can't find workers that can afford to stay around.

And now you know why people leave Northern Michigan for the better paying pastures of liberal taxholes of cities.

Sat, 10/19/2019 - 12:18pm

I am not anti-government, there are many things I believe that government is best suited to support society. I would simply like them to employ practices that help organizations improve and be successful.
I am a strong supporter of regulations, but not as command and control rather as performance driver, and as a source of best proven knowledge of operations. Government can be most effective in providing services such as police, social support [though I prefer subcontracted to outside organizations], education.
I can’t think of anyone to hate, I do dislike many things people chose to do to other people. For all those you ask about hating, I simply feel it adds to their perspectives and I believe strongly in conversations that have a diversity of perspective. I have known many different types of people, and more specifically I have worked with those you mention and many more different than mention for more years than or nearly as many years you have been around.
I look at the 2nd Amendment probably a bit differently, I see it in two ways one is the personal ownership and use, and the other is it being used as an attack on personal choice and a vehicle for expanding government control. When I was finishing my schooling we lived in a multi-family house and the house next door was raided by the police with guns drawn, another time my wife was going to cross the street for a visit carrying our new born and stopped when she saw a man in a parked car with a gun on the seat. We have not been in such a setting since then and not had a gun. As for a ammo clip it would depended on the rifle, AK-47 30 round clip is very cumbersome vs an AR-15. A hunter working a bog area carrying an AR-15 could make a case for a clip so they could prevent having to reload and risk dropping rounds. There are practical elements that shouldn’t be used to create barriers that project an impression of not listening or respectful those who have a differing view.
You may not believe that what Beto promotes can’t happen, but that ignores how things have changed in your lifetime and what people didn’t believe could happen have happened. By claiming it can’t happen discredits people who believe it could. How will you backup your guarantee [“no one is coming to take your shot gun or rifle.”], what will you do if your guarantee fails? Why do you feel resistance needs to involve a militia? You may be excellent with fire arms, but have you ever heard the whine of a bullet fired with malicious intent? The reaction is very individualized in one case discouraging being in situations where guns are available, but it doesn’t preclude use such a weapon. Why wouldn’t you wonder about people that would purposely create situations that could precipitate violence self-aggrandizement?
I don’t doubt where the funding comes from, but the topic was perception of rural residents being ‘self-reliant’, not whether they did or didn’t use the State programs and surely not about making it accessible. In our situation it was the programs we were supporting were being promoted by our volunteers in both the rural and urban areas and this issue was part of a discussion of barriers to use we needed to overcome. It seems you aren’t listening; I was offering an experience that demonstrated a tendency to ‘self-reliance’.
I would not hire them to work on a rocket ship because that rocket won’t be built so far from the launch pad. However with demonstrate skills [certification], I would hire them to build pressure vessels for hazardous operations. I say that with confidence, since many years ago I did just that, we had a part-time soybean farmer and workers including welders in the plants. Do you consider whether Gladwin, Standish, or West Branch northern Michigan or rural?
You still can’t let go of you stereotyping, my wife/I have been doing home repair, plumbing, electrical, tiling, painting, carpentry, etc. Our daughters have being doing such things for years. Our youngest just had a house remodeled recently and she replaced the toilets. You need to consider there are people, even degreed ones [the daughter I mentioned is a degreed engineer] can be self-reliant; can learn the principles and practical skills of other professions and how to apply them, and gaining such understanding allows you to contribute to solving problems and being respected by those professionals. Rather than question my experience and capabilities, I would encourage you to challenge my ideas by offering scenarios asking how an approach would apply. By focusing on the person while ignoring their ideas and application discourages developing better ideas and finding ways to improve conditions or solving problems.
I well appreciate laboring since I have been a laborer all my life, I have earned my income based on the application of my knowledge and skills that at times necessitated tugging a wrench, pounding a hammer turning a valve, which sounds like labor, so why would I feel labor was worthless. My father for much of his life was paid for his strength and endurance, he was ‘labor’ why would I feel labor is worthless. What have I said that even suggested ‘labor’ is worthless? Whether it is manufacturing or a service it is labor and is what most customers are paying for so why would people feel people of any political strife believe ‘labor’ is worthless?
Back to the better incomes for northern Michigan residents, not all can become doctors or lawyers, and if they did there isn’t enough work to support them up north, but many can become engineers, even more can become coders, or other such high knowledge positions. The reality is that coders aren’t restricted by geography, it is about access and even if it is to a person at a desk nearby or a thousand miles away that access is the same wires/cables so maybe it isn’t where you are but why someone willing to invest their money would want to do that in northern Michigan. Maybe that is an idea to explore instead of simply whining because what is being done is failing. I don’t claim to have the answer, I offer that between the two of us and a few more maybe we could form ideas that might be worth trying.

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 3:05pm

MOM, What the heck are you going on about? Check my post ... and your meds. FYI, the US has a higher home ownership than the European Socialist paradises that you folks want us to emulate. They don’t break out home ownership by income levels so we can’t tell what that looks like there but it’s a safe bet the poorest half here have a higher rate of ownership than the poorest half there there.

Ben W. Washburn
Sun, 10/13/2019 - 11:05pm

I can agree that there is a growing income disparity challenge which is detrimental to the common good. But, as best as I can measure it, that only accounts for about 1/3 of the general income crunch. The other 2/3rds is due to changes in world populations and the advent of at least 4 other major economic factors, over which "we" have little or no control, and which "we" as a nation either largely created or enabled to come into existence:
1. Computers.
2. A world-wide internet
3. The super-ocean transport.
4. An international banking and incorporation system.
Time and nature destroys all existing housing. It takes about 2% per year of the average current selling price of a home to maintain it for the next 50 or 100 years. No one is making that investment in preserving much of our housing stock. And a whole bunch of "free market entrepeneurs" are buying-up and milking deteriorating homes for short-term profits.
Our schools do nothing to teach folks the simple crafts of how to maintain a home. Seventy years ago, I went to a vocational agriculture high school in Kentucky, which instructed me in basic carpentry, brick-laying, cement work, making my own paint, electrical wiring, forging ironwork, welding, and canning produce. I've always done all of my own work to maintain my homes. I don't lay blame on folks who are clueless about how to do this. No one has ever taught them how to do otherwise. But, as one practical measure on how "we" address the "housing crisis", I would propose that we get serious about understanding that there is little that government can do to bridge this growing gap, other than to enable more folks on how to fend for themselves.

Fri, 11/08/2019 - 11:18am

in 2004 banks forclosed on homes....valued at $ 150 000 to homeowners.....foreclosed BANKS sold same house...for $ 35 000 to new owner..remodelt and sold for ...$ 90 000;
Local Congressmen foreclosed on 80 000 homes and still does,,,
Money for demolition in Detroit over $ 200 milloin
'2020 CENSUS ......lets used it to remodel Home and give JOBS and a Family and veterans .........newly weds a home..

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 11:26am

This problem is not unique to Michigan. Builders want to build big because big equals higher profit from a given project. Governments want expensive homes built because expansive homes equal higher property tax payments. Keep builders and developers off the local zoning and property use boards and you might have a better shot at affordable homes. Classify more projects as non advolorem and you might have more people saying “we can live without that giant throne to someone’s ego”, and have lower property tax and more affordable housing. Everyone who has a service business in a wealthy neighborhood knows that a large problem is finding nearby workers to staff the business. Eliminate all the red tape and make it so people can build reasonably affordable housing.

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 2:42pm

Yes bigger projects do make for larger profits, but this isn't driven as much by builders as you think. Many townships (especially) put restrictions that drive up the size and thereby cost of putting in each lot. It's doesn't take an MBA to figure out that you're not going to build a $150k or even $200k home on a $100k lot. This becomes a self perpetuating phenomia. It doesn't hurt that Schools and cities/townships perceive the upper income people buying higher priced homes to bring fewer problems and issues than do lower income families, so are eager maintain restrictions and pocket savings from avoiding these issues.

Sun, 10/13/2019 - 6:45am

Income disparity is a competitive advantage and helps drive the American dream. The poor in this country are considered middle income by world standards. We Americans do a great job of looking after the less fortunate not only in our own country but also globally. Income tax is a wealth transfer system from higher to lower earners. Michigan transfers 30 % of all state revenue to the less wealthy within the state. This budget item also has the highest annual growth rate of 6%. No other form of economic system has lifted more people out of poverty than capitalism.
The housing shortage in areas of the state and country is a simple economic condition of supply and demand. Supply is being impacted do to many reasons mentioned in the article. Demand is also being impacted by population growth. American Population growth Is primarily driven by immigration. https://www.heritage.org/poverty-and-inequality/report/how-poor-are-amer...

Dan Moerman
Sun, 10/13/2019 - 10:11am

The house in Ann Arbor that I bought in 1973 for $24,500 is currently listed on Zillow with an estimated price of $332,761. At the time, my princely salary of $11,500 per year qualified me for a mortgage sufficient to buy that house (don't ask how I managed the 10% down payment). Presumably, one would need a salary of roughly $166,000 to get a mortgage for the house today. Note: 800 square feet, basement, no garage. This is the definitive proof of a "housing crisis."

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 11:27am

Is money the only thing that has changed in the past 45 years? What was the average level of education in 1973, what type of degree did it take for a $11,500 salary in 1973 [in my town it was an engineering degree], what was the density of population, what was the nature of products and services being bought, how much was a phone bill, what was the availability of fresh vegetables in January? Since we always here real estate is about 'location, location, location' I would suspect that is true in your case. What would the price be in Detroit?

Life isn't simply a $. Was a wheelchair bound person able to travel Ann Arbor or any town in Michigan on their own then? What about now?

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 9:32am

Problem poorly presented: 1. Don't use median household income number. Huge number of households (students in college) fill the ranks of the bottom. Also, those just entering the workforce shouldn't be expected to be able to afford a home-we all rent when we are young. 2. New home pricing irrelevant. Tiny slice of housing market.
Michigan actually has really affordable housing. A two income household making $12/hour makes close to $50,000 per year. They can buy a "starter" home/ condo in virtually every market in the state. Even in pricey areas- you just live in Eastpointe for your first home, not Grosse Pointe; Burton, not Grand Blanc; Lansing, not Okemos; Oak Park, not Birmingham.

John Q. Public
Tue, 10/15/2019 - 4:00pm

A $175,000 house on gross annual income of $50K? That meets government underwriting guidelines, but it is a certain formula for a 20-30% default rate within 10 years. Even if they can put 10% down ($17,500 in savings on that income? Yeah, right.) the resulting 30-year mortgage of $157,500 at 4% is a monthly P&I of $750 a month. Add in a MIMIMUM of $250 for taxes and insurance--if they live in a place where their total tax rate is only 30 mills. $1K a month payment.

Monthly disposable income of a $50K annual gross is likely to be around $3500, or $42K annual. With a $1,000 PITI house payment, they're right at 30% in a best-case scenario. Even though underwriting uses gross income to qualify borrowers, that is done to drive sales. You pay your bills with net pay. If you are spending more than three times your annual net income on a home purchase, you are asking for financial difficulty down the road unless nothing bad ever happens to you (illness, job loss, etc.) This family can comfortably afford a $125,000 house. If there is nothing available at that price where they live, they should rent, not buy.

Mr. Allen's best suggestion is rent assistance to the lower income segment. That's much smarter than unfairly advising them and assisting them into owning a house they cannot afford.

Fri, 11/08/2019 - 11:27am

rental reimbursement ONLY benefits the landlord>
piont: subzidies from Federeal Goverment: increased granted by MSDA.....
increased FEDRAL governments "Budget"DEBT los to taxpayers again....
Money does not Stay in local city or STATE
.since most public housing Owners Live... out of state.plus only small amount 35 % taxes payed..

Fri, 11/08/2019 - 11:30am

rent increased 2019--by $ 50 .......no working Senior,,just volunteer.
.just .....Veterean NOV 11.2019

Fri, 11/08/2019 - 11:33am

China and russia build housing .condos and txaistaios and Rails and Airtportsfrom BEJENG to EU/europa delivery of GOOD on rail ,one mile long 18 days.now that is progress