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Priority Policy: Increasing Affordable and Middle Housing

Marquette, MI (9/28/2020) An overview of Cody's plan to create more affordable and middle housing.

Our City has a significant challenge ahead regarding housing affordability and retaining working families and young talent. Recent data indicates that 45% of Marquette County residents are either living in poverty or are considered “Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed” (ALICE), which essentially means working full time but unable to afford a basic household budget. Similarly, about 1 in 3 City of Marquette households are “cost-burdened,” meaning housing costs alone consume more than 30% of their income. This is a serious issue and needs to be a top priority moving forward. I have a plan on how to address this, but I should note that the City Commission has created an Affordable Housing Ad Hoc Committee to study this issue and I look forward to hearing their recommendations. Here are some of mine:

Ease up on our restrictive zoning policy regarding accessory dwelling units (ADUs, a.k.a. “granny flats”), and make it easier for property owners to build and rent them. ADUs have been very successful at expanding the “missing middle” rental housing market in other communities.

Zone more neighborhoods as Medium Density Residential, which would allow duplexes to exist alongside single-family homes. With that same thought in mind, we should also look at selectively making medium density zones less restrictive and allow for triplexes and fourplexes to also be created in these zones.

Work with developers and the Marquette Brownfield Redevelopment Authority to build more low-to-medium-income housing while still making the projects financially feasible for them.

Ease the lot coverage restrictions set on multi-family residential districts, which currently only allows apartment buildings to exist on 20% of the lot that the building is on. Many communities throughout the Upper Peninsula have this coverage set at 35-40%, and by increasing it we could increase the number of rental apartment units on the same lots that are already zoned for multi-family residential.

The current restrictive policy we have greatly reduces the number of housing units available in the housing market, which is a large part of why the units that are available, cost so much. The policies I'm proposing would allow the private market to increase the number of housing units available, promote greater density instead of sprawling, reduce housing cost by making greater competition in the housing market, and retain significantly more residence.

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