Marquette County organizations secure $50K for housing specialist

MARQUETTE — Continued efforts to increase housing in Marquette County are underway.

The Marquette County Land Bank Authority, alongside InvestUP and the Lake Superior Community Partnership, secured $50,000 from the Michigan Office of Rural Development to support hiring a housing specialist.

According to an LSCP press release, this allocation is from the inaugural round of Rural Readiness grants, “a new program aimed at helping rural communities build long-term capacity.” Out of 90 initial submission, MCLBA was among 21 recipients statewide.

The grant will be complemented by local contributions from MCLBA, InvestUP and the LSCP Chairman’s Circle. In addition to the $50,000 Rural Readiness grant, the Community Foundation of Marquette County has awarded a $25,000 grant from the Rod and Holly Aldrich Donor Advised Fund to the MCLBA to help address community housing needs.

According to the press release, this contribution will “further leverage the investment in capacity to address housing needs in the region.”

“It is an honor to be selected to receive these funds, especially given the competitive nature of this first round. We value our strong relationship with the Office of Rural Development and appreciate their trust in our proposal,” MCLBA Executive Director Anne Giroux said in the press release. “The MCLBA has worked tirelessly to build relationships and collaborate with many partners, including InvestUP, LSCP and the Community Foundation of Marquette County and we’re looking forward to the impact of having a full-time position dedicated to creating new housing opportunities.”

The housing specialist will take on a variety of responsibilities including:

≤ Engaging in Marquette County Local Government Task Force quarterly meetings.

≤ Overseeing the Target Market Analysis.

≤ Creating development plans for multi-unit housing projects at different sites in Marquette County.

≤ Coordinating plans for housing development on sites where blight elimination dollars have been or will be spent.

≤ Developing an online resource library of tools and funding sources for land banks and local units of government to access and use in the future, including a locally focused pattern book of housing units/blueprints.

≤ Participating in regional discussions, trainings and workshops.

≤ Assisting municipalities outside of Marquette County with housing projects.

≤ Linking communities to the InvestUP housing fund.

“Housing is a complex issue and requires many partners all rowing in the same direction. Anne’s work at the MCLBA is second to none, and the LSCP has been honored to work with the MCLBA to collectively facilitate new housing throughout Marquette County, in addition to the work of our friends at InvestUP,” LSCP CEO Christopher Germain said in a press release. “In recent years, the LSCP has dedicated significant staff time to housing efforts, and now — thanks to this investment from the state and local partners — we’ll be able to enhance those efforts even further and add direct capacity to one of our key local partners. This added capacity will be a game changer.”

CFMC CEO Zosia Eppensteiner said in the press release that CFMC is grateful to the donors who “recognize needs such as housing” in the community and are “happy to leverage those dollars and partner with public organizations addressing these needs.”

The specialist will also facilitate access to regional resources such as InvestUP’s Build U.P. Housing Fund, extending services to other Upper Peninsula communities.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to enhance our ongoing partnership with local organizations such as the MCLBA and the LSCP. Housing is a critical issue that requires multiple tools to address,” InvestUP CEO Marty Fittante said in the press release. “We look forward to this position’s impact and are excited to see how it will benefit the entire U.P.”

Current plans for the specialist’s recruitment are underway, with a possible appointment in early 2024. According to LSCP, the current grant ensures the role’s sustainability for about 15 months.


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