CADILLAC — A recent poll is showing a startling trend and you or someone you know is likely experiencing this issue firsthand. 

More than one-third of Michigan residents indicated their communities had too few housing options, according to a statewide poll conducted earlier this year by the Marketing Research Group. To be exact, the percentage was at 34% and the poll showed the supply of affordable housing options in Michigan has not met the increasing demand.

Home Builders Association of Michigan CEO Bob Filka said the housing issue is an economic development issue and if not addressed could hinder the potential growth of Michigan communities. The Home Builders Association of Michigan estimates that production for single-family homes will drop below 17,000 in 2019. Based on economic data, however, that number should be 40% higher.

"To increase job creation and grow our population base, communities need to start focusing on their residential building industry," Filka said. "We have a growing missing middle in the housing marketplace in virtually every community in our state where the only production happening is at the higher end of the market. Lack of supply is going to catch up with us."

New housing construction has remained flat year-over-year for June, according to the association. In June, 1,548 permits were issued, compared to 1,536 in June 2018. Year-to-date for this year, there have been 7,134 permits issued in Michigan, compared to 8,568 during the same period in 2018, which represents a 20% decrease, according to the association.

Several trends point to the housing crisis that association has been warning about for the past few years. A lack of skilled labor, shortage of buildable lots, and inconsistent and burdensome government regulations are all troubling issues that negatively impact the housing industry and must be addressed. 

"Those communities that recognize the changing dynamics of the housing industry will have a distinct competitive advantage over others in the future,‘ Filka said. “Those communities that don’t, will find themselves experiencing fewer housing opportunities for the residents and potentially an economic decline.‘

Cadillac City Manager Marcus Peccia said while he was not familiar with the recent poll, he said he doesn't disagree with the general sentiment that there there are housing issues in Michigan. He said it is more like a crisis. 

"There is a housing crisis going on in Michigan and Cadillac is not immune to it," he said. 

That housing crisis is making it difficult for businesses across multiple sectors including governmental, industrial and commercial, to find qualified applicants to fill positions, Peccia said. While those people are out there, without having a place for them to live they cannot relocate or take the jobs. 

Peccia said currently the only housing project being constructed is Cadillac Lofts. 

Cadillac is doing what can be done to try and alleviate the pressure on folks looking for homes. The city has positioned itself to not only be marketable but also to work with the private sector and other governmental units, such as the State of Michigan, to put incentives in place to make new construction of housing viable," Peccia said. 

Peccia said the problem seems to be the prices that would need to be charged to build such housing for rent or lease doesn't necessarily match what the market in Cadillac can bare. That creates a challenge and short of getting assistance from a myriad of different governmental programs it is difficult to achieve, he said. 

"Cadillac is in a great place when it comes to its geographic location, amenities and services we provide. We provide more services than anyone within an hours drive," he said. "We also are in a place where we are willing to work with people to enter into public-private partnerships to get things built. Cadillac Lofts is an example of that."  

In Wexford County, the amount of new home build permits issued by the building department equaled 76 in 2018 and through July 31, 2019, were at 37. The county building department covers all of Wexford County except the City of Cadillac, the City of Manton, and Cedar Creek Township as those jurisdictions issue their building permits.

When looking more closely at the numbers from Wexford County you can see in 2018 the number of residential new construction was 63, followed by residential manufactured homes at 10 and residential BOCA modular homes at 3. Through the end of July 2019, however, the pace of new residential construction builds was only at 24 which not even half of the builds from the previous year. However, the new residential BOCA modular construction has already doubled the 2018 number with six. New residential manufactured home builds appears to be on track to match last year's mark or surpass it with seven permits already pulled. 

Missaukee County Building Inspector Robert DuVall said he has been busy in 2019. 

So far, he said total permits which include new housing is nearing or slightly above 600, but only 6-8 of those are for new homes. A majority of the permits pulled in Missaukee County have been for pole barn construction, according to DuVall. 

"I think it is a little higher this year. Permits pulled in total for this year, I'm already ahead by 10 or so," he said. "I will likely have about 12-14 new homes built this year which is about par." 

Of the homes that are being built, DuVall said a majority of them are primary residences but there also are somewhat can be considered retirement homes or second homes. 

Cadillac News