Local officials gathered for a symposium in Genoa Township regarding the challenges of attainable housing in the area and the benefits of building sustainable communities.

The Housing Symposium, sponsored by the Livingston County Association of Realtors, was held at Genoa Township Hall Tuesday afternoon and attended by elected officials and other stakeholders. The event featured presentations and discussion on the benefits of diverse housing within the county, expanding and preserving housing opportunities and overall housing matters. Other topics included challenges and recommendations regarding residential construction and how it all ties into the county’s Master Plan. Carol Griffith is a member of the Association of Realtors and tells WHMI event organizers felt it was important for officials at decision-making tables to hear statistics that are a part of the community and how those statistics could apply to their municipality.

Association President Pam Zimmerlee says there are a number of factors that contribute to the presence of attainable housing in the community, or the lack thereof. For those looking to own a home, it may be a matter of a shortage in inventory, and for those interested in selling, it can be an issue of the uncertainty as to whether they’ll find their next home due to the inventory shortage. Zimmerlee notes another challenge is that developers are more interested in building higher-end homes because “builders can’t afford to build”. Zimmerlee says that’s based on information the Association has received which shows that 25% of the cost builders incur is due to government regulations.

Marcia Gebarowski is the Director of Business Development in Livingston County for Ann Arbor SPARK. She says there is also the challenge of employers looking for a place to locate their business, but a factor in making their decision is housing availability for potential employees. Gebarowski says while their data shows Livingston County has the highest median household income at an average of about $80,000, the wages of people employed here fall far below that at about $44,000. She says that disparity between people that live here and those that work and live here is prompting discussion to find resolutions to bridge that gap.

Those who attended the symposium were asked to fill out a survey afterwards, indicating whether they would be open to having future discussions about the issue. Event organizers say the hope is that the symposium will help continue and foster conversation on what can be done to create solutions or additional opportunities. (DK)