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Coalition Calls On Gov, Legislature To Invest In Affordable, Healthy Homes

May 10, 2022

A broad coalition of business, housing, economic development, anti-poverty, energy and environmental groups Thursday called on the Governor and Legislature to prioritize affordable, healthy homes for Michigan families.

The Resilient Homes Michigan coalition’s MI Affordable, Healthy Homes Proposal calls for a $1.65 billion investment in housing for low- and moderate-income families.

“Access to healthy housing is simply a human right,” Thomas Hickson Jr., vice president for Public Policy and Advocacy at the Michigan Catholic Conference, said. “Having the security to live in a stable, decent home is a basic need, and is so crucial to work, to go to school and to protect your family.”

The launch of the MI Affordable proposal follows a day after Gov. Gretchen  Whitmer announced the state’s first statewide housing plan, a five-year strategy to address housing equity challenges. 

The coalition’s proposal would provide the funding needed to support the housing plan’s ambitious goal of stabilizing over 100,000 households and increasing the energy efficiency of over 15,000 homes.

In Michigan, more than half of those renting and 14% of homeowners pay more than 30% of their income for housing – which worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bob Sutherland, president of Cherry Republic, said.

Sutherland, who also co-chairs the Great Lakes Business Network, which supports the proposal, said housing is a major issue for his employees as it is difficult to find affordable and quality housing in the north. As a result, it’s difficult to recruit employees.

“Michiganders are struggling to afford housing,” he said.

The coalition’s plan calls for construction of more affordable housing for low- and middle-income residents as well as investments in repairing, weatherizing and increasing the energy efficiency of existing housing stock. 

Sutherland said two out of five homes in Michigan were built before 1960 and are in need of energy efficiency updates as well as roof repairs or lead and asbestos removal.

The MI Affordable proposal includes $500 million to build new and preserve existing homes, fix roofs, plumbing and utility affordability. It also outlines the need to invest in decarbonizing Michigan’s homes and improving indoor air quality.

The panelists said the housing crisis negatively affects the state’s business sector as well as putting families at risk. They emphasized that an investment in affordable, healthy homes is an investment in Michigan’s economy.

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