Making progress in the housing crisis

At the 5th annual Northwest Michigan Housing Summit – to a record-breaking crowd of 220 attendees – newly-formed nonprofit Housing North shared information on its new awareness campaign, advocacy agenda, and capacity-building.

The Housing Summit, coordinated by Housing North and Networks Northwest, featured a slate of speakers focused on solutions to the region’s short supply of housing at all income levels, with presentations on development tools, land bank authorities, communications strategies, and more.

The presentations were underscored by local and regional efforts to address communications, policy, and capacity barriers to housing, many of them led by Housing North, which shared an update on its activities over the last year.

Since its Board of Directors was first established in September 2018, the organization has made quick progress in meeting its original goals for communications, policy, and advocacy, establishing Housing North as a partner for communities and developers working toward housing solutions in Northwest Michigan.

  • With Sarah Lucas coming on board as Executive Director in 2019, the organization is now looking to add capacity as it works towards benchmarks laid out in its strategic plan, which was recently adopted by the organization’s ten-county
  • The organization developed a communications strategy and messaging guidance for housing activities, along with a region-wide awareness campaign, to be launched this fall as a “call to action” on housing solutions for the public, local governments, and employers.
  • A new Housing North advocacy agenda outlines the region’s housing priorities and next steps. Housing North and partners are already working with legislators and statewide interests to advance the region’s housing priorities.
  • Housing North has been convening local, county, and state government and philanthropic partners, housing agencies, volunteers, and more, to explore new funding resources and financing approaches to housing, with a focus on land acquisition as a way to leverage private investment.
  • In partnership with Networks Northwest, it’s coordinating an update to the 10-county residential target market analysis, to be released this fall. The study provides estimates of the annual market demand for housing in each county, city, and village in the region.
  • Meanwhile, it’s provided technical support to cities, counties, and nonprofit groups working to develop specific projects and initiatives.

Said Housing North Board Chair Kelly Smith, “We’ve moved quickly as an organization to meet our mission and put Housing North in a position to build the region’s housing readiness – that is, its ability to attract new housing development and resources for Northwest Michigan.”

Now, Housing North is looking ahead, with a focus on opportunities to advance policy priorities in Lansing, plans to launch the Homes for Our Future campaign, and partnerships to structure locally-based Housing North staff that can provide on-the-ground technical assistance for specific projects, beginning in Charlevoix County in early 2020.  These activities are supported by local, regional, and statewide partners including local governments, philanthropy, housing agencies, and more – building a truly collaborative and cross-sector approach to housing solutions.

For more information about how to partner with Housing North, along with updates on its activities, its strategic plan, and other resources, on the Housing North website, located at

For more information on the Housing Summit, including presentations and materials, please visit

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