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  • Eileen Zilch

Introducing Housing Catalysts: A Beacon of Hope for Affordable Housing in Livingston County

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

Established in 2016, Community Catalysts has been dedicated to supporting the vulnerable in our community – seniors, veterans, the homeless, and other lower-income people. Our focus? Quality attainable housing and essential services.

In 2023, we are upping the ante and launching a groundbreaking initiative called Housing Catalysts, designed to be a beacon of hope in Livingston County's growing affordable housing crisis.

The Mission of Housing Catalysts

We firmly believe everyone should have a safe and affordable place to call home. Housing Catalysts is our commitment to making that belief a reality for the people of Livingston County.

This mission is not just a vision; it's a promise. The goal of Housing Catalysts is to develop and implement a S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) work plan over the next 5-7 years that yields more housing that people can afford. Our objective is clear: to significantly increase the availability of affordable, attainable, and workforce housing in Livingston County.

We do most of our work in partnership with other local non-profits, and this initiative is no exception. Together with the following partners, we are launching Housing Catalysts:

  • Janelle Best, Howell Area Chamber of Commerce

  • Marcia Gebarowski, Ann Arbor SPARK

  • Amy Johnston, HSCB and Community Mental Health

  • Brad Michaud, OLHSA and Venture

  • Adam Perry, Livingston County Catholic Charities

The Timeline of Development

The journey of Housing Catalysts has already begun! An official kickoff meeting was held on October 17th at 2|42 Community Church in Brighton, designed to introduce the project's need and plan to community members who want to work with us to accomplish this initiative.

Community Catalysts' Executive Director Eileen Zilch delivers remarks at the Housing Catalyst launch on October 17, 2023.

Over the next several months, Community Catalysts will bring together a diverse group of stakeholders, including representatives from Livingston County municipalities, local employers, housing developers, funders, and community members who are passionate about taking action to develop more local housing that people can afford.

Statistics: Housing and Rent Prices in Michigan

Before we dive further into the positive impacts of affordable housing, let's take a moment to consider the housing situation in Michigan. The affordability crisis isn't unique to Livingston County; it's a statewide issue.

Here are some sobering statistics:

  • From January 2013 to October 2021, average Michigan home sale prices increased by 84%. Home prices for a first-time homebuyer (including our children who are returning to the county from college as well as employees of many of our local companies) are often out of reach.

Clearly, the need for more housing options that people can afford is evident—and this is where Housing Catalysts comes into play.

The Impact of Affordable Housing on Communities

Affordable housing isn't just about providing shelter; it's about fostering vibrant, resilient communities.

Here are just a few of the far-reaching benefits generated by the presence of affordable housing:

1. Economic Stability | Affordable housing enables families to save, invest, and plan for their future. When housing costs are reasonable, individuals and families have more financial stability and can contribute to the local economy through spending and homeownership.

3. Educational Opportunities | Affordable housing allows families to live in areas with good schools, providing children with access to better educational opportunities, which can break the cycle of poverty.

4. Community Cohesion | When people have secure, affordable housing, they are more likely to engage in community activities, build lasting relationships, and contribute to the overall well-being of their neighborhoods.

5. Workforce Development | Housing options that workers can afford supports local economic development. Employees can live closer to their workplaces, reducing absenteeism, and providing employers with a more stable workforce.

6. Reduced Homelessness | Transitional housing initiatives, like Bethel Suites in Howell Township, provide stable short-term housing, allowing people in our community to avoid homelessness. Temporary housing provides a lifeline to those in crisis and connects them to longer-term solutions.

7. Long-Term Creative Options | Initiatives like a tiny home community in Livingston County offer a cost-effective pathway to homeownership, enabling renters to transition into home ownership, fostering a sense of belonging and financial empowerment.

The Long Term Impacts of Affordable Housing in Livingston County

Through the Housing Catalysts initiative, Community Catalysts' desire is to be much more than just "cheerleaders" for this cause. We want to be the "doers," dedicated to transforming our community.

Guest speaker, Cory Mays, from the City of Jackson, outlines an innovative new program breaking ground in Jackson which will provide the city with 100 new houses that community members can afford.

With community support and a clear plan, we are on the path to making a significant impact on the attainable housing landscape in Livingston County.

If you are passionate about seeing housing that people can afford be developed in Livingston County – whether it's rental properties or single-family homes – we’d like to invite you to get involved in this long-term initiative.

Reach out to Eileen Zilch at Through your support and involvement, together, we can help turn this vision into a reality, making Livingston County a place where people with all types of jobs and incomes in the county can afford to live.

Learn More About Housing Catalysts

Learn more about Community Catalysts and the Housing Catalysts initiative by tuning in to WHMI’s Viewpoint program to hear Community Catalysts’ Executive Director, Eileen Zilch, discuss this exciting new initiative in more detail.

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