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  • Eileen Zilch

Thinking Outside the Box: Innovative Approaches to Attainable Housing in Livingston County

Finding affordable housing solutions requires community collaboration, goal setting, and an innovative mindset. 

Here’s how Community Catalysts is committed to inspiring change that lasts.

Attainable Housing: One of Michigan’s Greatest Needs

Understanding the Current Housing Scenario in Livingston County

The need for affordable housing in Livingston County is more urgent than ever. 

Currently, our region is grappling with a housing market that doesn't cater to the full diversity of its residents' economic situations. The median home sold price in Livingston County was $365,275 in January 2024, up 6.5% from last year, and the median price per square foot was $206, pushing the dream of homeownership out of reach for many. 

Renters aren’t exempt from the struggle, with rents escalating beyond the means of low to moderate-income families. 

This gap between housing costs and what residents can afford is widening, leaving a significant portion of the community in a precarious position. 

Recognizing this disparity is the first step towards creating attainable housing solutions that are not just a temporary fix but a long-term strategy for sustainable living in Michigan.

Harnessing the Power of the Community: Housing Catalysts

Employing Work Groups for the Cause

Housing Catalysts, which launched toward the end of 2023, is Community Catalysts’ latest targeted effort to combat the rising cost of housing and provide a structured, community-driven approach to attainable housing.

The drive for attainable housing is bolstered by the formation of dedicated work groups, which come together to dialogue and brainstorm creative solutions at each monthly Housing Catalysts meeting. 

These groups are composed of diverse stakeholders, including policymakers, nonprofit leaders, and community members, all united by a common purpose. By pooling their collective expertise and resources, these work groups can tackle the complex issues surrounding affordable housing. 

The Need for Defining Clear Housing Goals

Simply put, it's not enough to simply recognize the need for affordable housing in Livingston County; we also have to define what success looks like. 

These targets should be S.M.A.R.T. goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound to the unique needs of our community—which is exactly what Housing Catalysts seeks to abide at each monthly meeting. 

For example, a goal might be to increase the number of affordable housing units in Howell, MI, by a certain percentage within the next five years. 

By establishing these objectives, the community can focus its efforts and resources effectively. 

Clear goals also provide a benchmark for progress, allowing for regular assessment and adjustment of strategies. Ultimately, these targets foster accountability and keep the community's efforts aligned with the broader vision of making affordable housing accessible to everyone in need.

Thinking Outside the Box for Housing Solutions

Innovative Approaches to Affordable Housing

In the quest for affordable housing solutions, Community Catalysts is exploring a range of creative strategies to increase the availability of affordable homes. 

One approach is the development of mixed-use spaces that combine residential living with commercial and community services, maximizing land use and fostering inclusive communities. 

Another innovative idea is the adoption of modular and prefabricated homes, which can lower construction costs and shorten build times. 

Additionally, Community Catalysts is considering the use of underutilized properties owned by aging seniors, and formulating a live-in exchange program in which a young tenant would help an aging homeowner maintain their property in exchange for an affordable place to live.

The Role of Community Catalysts in Change

Yes, the team at Community Catalysts are essential drivers in the push for affordable housing in Livingston County—but our team is made up of individuals just like you.

The more individuals and organizations who act as the spark igniting action, the quicker we can tackle this systemic problem and create a better, brighter future. 

Supporters and community members like you bring energy, passion, and a sense of urgency to this issue, and we invite you to partner with Community Catalysts to leverage our networks and build coalitions, advocate for policy changes, and secure funding for housing projects. 

By championing the cause and holding the community accountable, together, we can act as catalysts in transforming the landscape of affordable housing Howell MI (and beyond)!

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