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Schmidt sponsors legislation to increase housing availability, revitalize local communities

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt on Wednesday joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers in introducing a package of bills aimed at increasing access to affordable housing for Michigan residents.

“There is a significant shortage of attainable housing, not only in communities in my district, but all across Michigan,” said Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “Affordable, available housing is a critical piece of the puzzle when considering how we can continue to grow the state’s economy and attract new talent.

“I’ve spoken with local leaders in northern Michigan, and the lack of available housing is a major issue for area families — and these concerns have been echoed by other legislators who worked on this package. If we want to continue efforts to make Michigan a better state to do business, we need to have homes for families to live in — it’s as simple as that. Something needs to be done.”

Senate Bills 1152-1155 would update the Brownfield Redevelopment Finance Act to include “housing assistance” or “housing development” and give local governments some flexibility when considering redevelopment projects if they focus on improving access to affordable family housing.

Brownfield sites are those being redeveloped or repurposed in a way that benefits those who live in the area. This measure specifically focuses on the redevelopment of old sites with the goal of rebuilding affordable, single-family homes and rental units in their places.

The bills are written to ensure rural, suburban and urban projects are all viable for assistance.

“Oftentimes, properties sit abandoned because of the cost associated with clean-up and redevelopment,” Schmidt said. “These changes would give local governments some additional tools to increase the availability of affordable housing in their communities.”

The bills have been referred to the Senate Committee on Economic and Small Business Development for further consideration.