City signs housing resolution

MARQUETTE — The Lake Superior Community Partnership is looking to create a countywide task force to discuss housing solutions.

The proposed task force would be dubbed the Marquette County Intergovernmental Housing Task Force, which, if created, would “formalize participation in a collaborative group in order to advance local housing efforts regionally and statewide,” a memo from LSCP CEO Sarah Lucas states. The memo was sent to cities and townships across the county.

“As the state of Michigan looks at expanding the resources and programming available to address housing needs, an organized, collaborative local government approach will position the county and its local governments to take advantage of new opportunities and resources,” Lucas said in the memo. “Further, many housing solutions require alignment and coordination between local units of government; and an intergovernmental task force will enable regular sharing of best practices, new initiatives and opportunities for collaboration between communities. As such, participating jurisdictions have proposed the attached resolution for consideration by local elected bodies, in order to formally appoint staff representatives that will bring forward recommendations for consideration at the local level.”

The city of Marquette is one local municipality that has jumped on board, voting unanimously to approve the resolution at Tuesday’s Marquette City Commission meeting.

The resolution defines the task force as “a consortium of local governments working together to advocate for state resources, identify regional solutions, leverage funding opportunities and examine best practices related to housing challenges in Marquette County.”

The resolution highlights the need to address housing needs based on income levels and household types, including rehabilitation, new housing development and redevelopment, all of which are documented in the 2020 Marquette County Housing Needs Assessment.

The resolution also states that there are a lack of resources and programs specific to attainable housing within the county and calls for potential solutions.

As part of the unanimous vote, the city appointed Assistant City Manager Sean Hobbins to serve on the task force once created.

“I think this is a common-sense move that we’re making here in collaboration with the LSCP and other local governments,” Commissioner Evan Bonsall said at Tuesday’s meeting. “It’s right in line with the (Ad-Hoc) Housing Committee’s recommendations, and we’re hopefully going to find some regional as well as some local solutions to the affordability crisis that we’re facing right now.”

The city is already one step ahead. Its Ad-Hoc Housing Committee, which was formed in January 2020 and chaired by Bonsall, released its final report in June. The committee was formed to tackle the city’s rising cost of housing, missing midpriced housing and come up with solutions to each problem.

The U.S. Census Bureau states that from 2015-19, the median value of an owner-occupied housing unit in Marquette County was $153,400, which is lower than the national median of $217,500, but higher than 13 of the other 14 Upper Peninsula counties. The only county with a higher median value over that 5-year data set is neighboring Alger County at $154,900.

Mayor Pro Tem Jenn Hill said housing is a countywide issue.

“We’ve been working on the local task force within the city, but this is truly a regional and countywide issue,” she said. “I’m really glad that we are coming together to work together, and it’s going to take time and all of us coming up with good ideas. I really appreciated this.”

“I certainly see the great use of this as really a tremendous step forward. I think for the city to be able to join this type of an effort because the answer and solution is not within the city of Marquette, it’s rather within the region and the entire methodology of it,” added Commissioner Fred Stonehouse. “This is really cool and this is a good thing.”


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