Workers and quality housing—both are in high demand in Michigan and the local community. That’s why it’s encouraging to see the Four County Community Foundation seeking to address those needs, particularly the need for suitable housing, by pursuing a grant through the Michigan State Housing Development Authority’s MOD program.

The state agency created the MOD initiative back in 2019 after seeing communities working overtime to attract and retain businesses but struggling with the reality of not having great housing options for a growing workforce. Research showed that the need for new affordable housing in areas experiencing job growth was most acute in rural Michigan. MOD grant dollars are used to construct modular-built homes with the intent of reducing the typical single-family construction time frame and making the homes available at an affordable price point.

Locally and nationwide, the very competitive housing market is making home ownership increasingly difficult for just about everyone. According to the National Association of Home Builders, 73% of buyers surveyed in the third quarter of 2021 estimated they can afford less than half the homes available for sale in their markets. According to a recent report by National Public Radio, statistics show that about half of home building companies went out of business due to the Great Recession and associated housing crisis. That’s contributed to having about two million homes less than what’s needed in the United States, economists say.

In some of our local communities, there’s a lack of space to build or expand new housing developments. Recently, Imlay City School Board members in discussions about their student count, noted that the district hasn’t seen a significant housing development in many years.

As the home building industry continues to experience issues sourcing staff, supplies and more, that impedes new housing progress where the land or lots exist.

As with so many initiatives, the foundation’s pursuit of a MOD program grant is a small step that could give at least one family a helping hand but it has the potential to initiate change or at least spark conversations about how we can make the Tri-City area a better place to live, work and learn.