Traverse City, Michigan is a great place to raise a family – if you can find a place to live while you raise your family. Recent statistics show that while young people are flocking to the area, attracted by its natural beauty, moderate climate, and charming small town vibe, adults between the ages of 35-49, or ‘Family Age,’ are leaving in disproportionately high numbers, unable to find housing to meet their needs. So, as the local Chamber of Commerce turns its focus toward economic development with a stated mission to create family-sustaining jobs in the region, the REALTORS® are joining forces with like-minded organizations to overcome barriers that get in the way of housing solutions for those looking to settle there.
Connor Miller, Government Affairs Director of the 909-member Traverse Area Association of REALTORS® (TAAR,) describes an innovative public advocacy campaign called Homes for Our Future, launched at a Housing Summit held in October and supported by a REALTOR® Party Housing Opportunity Grant. “The campaign is all about informing and directing individual citizens as well as entire communities who want to help solve housing shortages, but may not know where to start. Its website, HomesforOurFuture.org, is engaging and informative, and maintains a catalogue of resources and networks active across ten counties in northern Michigan where residents, employers, and local governments can take action,” he explains. “It answers the question: ‘Who’s already doing what…?’ and allows people to join in and help.”
The Housing Summit was hosted by Housing North and Networks Northwest, two regional organizations focused on forming collaborative housing solutions; it attracted more than 200 people, including local government and transit authority representatives, housing providers, developers, REALTORS®, and other stakeholders. About half of TAAR’s board was there, and Michigan REALTORS®’ Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs participated on one of the Summit’s featured panels. “All these entities and individuals were there to explore how we can overcome barriers of communication, policy, and finances that stand in the way of creating the kind of housing our communities need,” says Miller. “There were sobering facts, as well as heartening success stories. What came across loud and clear was the importance of government collaboration at the local, state, and federal level to bring about real solutions for the housing shortages so many communities are experiencing.”
In the short time since the Housing Summit, he says, TAAR has continued to work closely with Housing North, advocating for housing development before two local Planning Commissions and delivering a presentation on housing to a Young Professionals Program at the local Chamber of Commerce. “Thanks in part to the Housing Opportunity Grant that enabled us to help sponsor the Summit,” says Miller, “our association is securely and visibly at the forefront of efforts to solve the housing shortages in our region.”
To learn more about how Michigan’s Traverse Area Association of REALTORS® is collaborating with other organizations focused on reducing barriers to creating housing, including homes for families, contact Government Affairs Director Connor Miller at 231-947-2050.