Representatives of Resilient Homes Michigan, a broad coalition of business, housing, economic development, anti-poverty, energy and environmental groups came together on Thursday, May 5 for a press conference about the release of the MI Affordable, Healthy Homes Proposal.
This comprehensive $1.65 billion investment will ensure more Michiganders have attainable, healthy and comfortable homes. It calls for the construction of more affordable housing for low- and middle-income residents; investments in repairing, weatherizing and increasing the energy efficiency of Michigan’s existing aging housing stock; and providing on-the-job training for the workers that will help us achieve these goals.
The proposal also outlines the need to invest in decarbonizing Michigan’s homes and improving indoor air quality. Michigan’s building sector accounts for close to 20% of Michigan’s greenhouse gas emissions.
“Access to healthy housing is simply a human right,” said press conference panelist Thomas Hickson Jr., Vice President for Public Policy and Advocacy at the Michigan Catholic Conference. “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.”
In addition to Hickson, the press conference featured Bob Sutherland (President, Cherry Republic), Todd Nedwick (Senior Director of Sustainability Policy, National Housing Trust), Jason Cole (Executive Director, Michigan Minority Contractors Association) and Charlotte Jameson (Chief Policy Officer, Michigan Environmental Council). The five panelists outlined the ways in which this proposal increases the availability of healthy, comfortable homes for low- and moderate-income families, increases housing affordability and sustainability.
“We’re here today because Michiganders are paying more to rent, buy, and live in their homes than ever before,” said Jameson, of the Environmental Council. “At the same time our residents are facing increasing threats from climate change. Our state needs to do something about climbing rents, out-of-control prices for purchasing homes, increasing utility bills, and unsafe, unhealthy housing stock. We urge Gov. Whitmer and the legislature to confront the housing challenges head-on by making a significant investment in building more affordable, attainable housing, as well as retrofitting and decarbonizing existing housing.”
In addition to putting at risk the ability for families to maintain a safe, stable roof over their heads, the housing crisis also negatively affects the state’s business sector. The panelists emphasized that an investment in affordable, healthy homes is also an investment in Michigan’s economy.
“Over half of Michigan renters and 14% of Michigan homeowners pay over 30% of their income for housing, and the situation worsened during the pandemic,” said Sutherland. “At Cherry Republic, we’re spending much of our time on housing issues for our employees. It’s time to get this proposal passed, so we can get back to selling cherries.”
Cole noted that the Michigan Minority Contractors Association is heavily invested in the jobs this proposal would provide, as well as ensuring contractors themselves have safe, attainable residencies.
“This proposal creates jobs for Michiganders, and this is something we stand for at the Michigan Minority Contractors Association,” said Cole. “And many of our member contractors reside in these communities that are impacted by this issue. Bottom line—affordable, healthy homes contain happier residents aided by quality contractors for more resilient Michigan communities.”
The launch of the MI Affordable, Healthy Homes Proposal follows a day after Gov. Whitmer announced Michigan's first-ever statewide housing plan, a five-year strategy to address housing equity challenges. The 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.
“The MI Affordable, Healthy Homes Proposal complements and builds off Michigan's first statewide housing plan,” said Nedwick of the National Housing Trust. “These investments will return dividends for all Michiganders. Every dollar invested in energy efficiency upgrades returns three dollars in economic benefits.”
More information about the MI Affordable, Healthy Homes Proposal is available online at resilienthomesmichigan.org. More information on Michigan’s statewide housing plan can be found at michigan.gov/mshda/developers/statewide-housing-plan. A recording of the press conference can be found here.