10 ways Marquette can welcome more affordable housing

MARQUETTE, Mich. — Currently, one of the biggest concerns in Marquette is affordable housing. It’ll take some innovative thought and a fresh perspective, but if so honored to be elected, I’m committed to finding a solution.

With the decommissioning of the power plant and a lack of future tax revenue, we need to find ways to sustainably progress our city but also discuss the negative consequences of gentrification. It’s argued that developers can only make good profit margins if catering to a more affluent clientele. We need to work with developers — and welcome new ones — to incentivize a reprioritization of quality low and middle income housing projects. I want us to equally focus on solutions to real problems affecting working class families inside the city, including a lack of affordable housing.

The average income in Marquette is about $38k, and we cater to that pretty well… for now. Citizens should be spending 30% of their income on housing. Median cost for a house in city is about $200 – $250K, making the average mortgage roughly $1,200. We’re just on the fringes of affordability. Dual incomes make it work well. When we’re talking about affordable housing, we are talking about people who are making below averages – and, then, we’re generally referring to renters. 

The trend of unaffordability is its rapid increase — at a rate  with which average salaries can’t keep up — so, unless we get sudden influxes of better long term job opportunities, we can’t be raising property taxes on people. That’s exactly what we’re doing when we reassess the values of peoples homes to be worth more than they are. We do it to maintain revenue loss and keep up with nearby gentrified new properities, but lost in this systemic shuffle is the middle class.

We have people falling below this $38K who might be better off renting, and when I’m out talking to people, this is the number one issue facing renters, prospective home owners, and current property owners. What middle income home buyers are finding is properties are too expensive, or junk. There are few homes in the middles. We do not have quality properties below $200K.

We need to prioritize low income housing. Condo developments cater exclusively to double that. It’s counterinutitive to making Marquette a better place for everyone to live.

City commission should take actions to increase the availability of housing below the median house price (approximately $ 210,000). Marquette authorities, such as MBRA, DDA, LDFA, need to favor projects and plans that include realistic development of housing that is affordable for most Marquette families.

The building of a Fairfield Inn is expected to begin as soon as possible on Parcel 2 across from Beef-a-Roo. The construction of townhouses is expected to begin in the fall. The target price of the townhomes is anticipated to be +$300K. These decisions — which directly and deeply affect affordable housing — begin at the zoning and planning committee level. They start with public comment. They start at work sessions, and I want to encourage city residents to stay involved throughout these processes.

“When city leadership, government leaders, and nonprofits get creative and get serious about solving the issues, solutions can take shape.”

Affordable Housing Ideas

Influence Supply and Demand

Invite Forward Thinking Developers

Get Creative (6 Solutions)

Build a Tiny Home Community

Embrace the Housing First Initiative

Tax Incentives to Landlords for Low Rent Rates

Is it becoming unaffordable to rent in the City?

As of March 2018, average rent for an apartment in Marquette, MI is $793 which is a $100 increase in less than ten years, and a 3.03% increase from last month when the average rent was $769.

At one point in 2016, average rental prices for one to two bedroom apartments were hovering over $1,000. Until wages and income in the city can catch up, the drastic fluctuations are too difficult for renters to budget, causing evictions and a strain on property managers and landlords. A “a citywide system of government social insurance for renters” may help.

Households that see their rents go up could be eligible for tax credits or welfare payments to offset rent hikes, and vouchers to help pay the cost of moving. The money for the system would come from taxes on landlords [that raise rent] which would effectively spread the cost among all renters and landowners instead of laying the burden on the vulnerable few

Do you support tax incentives for landlords to keep rental rates affordable? It would tax landlords who increase rent to…

Posted by Andrew Lorinser on Monday, March 19, 2018

It’s a citywide system of government social insurance for renters.

More evidence will tell us if this a viable solution for Marquette. If landlords are facing increases because of city taxes, if they have reflective reasonable rental rates, they may benefit if offered tax relief to pass savings along to tenants.

I am not confident more government is the most suitable option here, but we need to recognize and address that rental rates have been increasingly unaffordable compared to income for many years. If the city can do something, we need to intervene without resorting to rent control, which many studies show does not work.