Demand makes affordable housing scarce in South Haven

Southwest Michigan

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — As the number of rental and vacation properties continues to grow in South Haven, the community is discussing ways to make housing more affordable.

The city, township and housing commission held a joint meeting at South Haven High School Monday night to search for possible solutions. The group is looking at a variety of options from encouraging new subdivisions to the construction of subsidized housing apartments.

The nonprofit group Housing Next says a new starter home in South Haven would cost about $310,000, a price that’s too steep for many.

City Manager Brian Dissette says affordable housing options are crucial for a healthy economy.

“All but one of the local businesses we’ve met with is concerned about the affordability of housing in the South Haven area,” Dissette said. “They’re concerned about keeping, retaining their employees and attracting new employees.”

As the popularity of the area as a vacation destination has increased, more rental properties are available, which can sometimes price locals out.

“Our hopes are that we can build something new so that the people that work here are not pushed to the outskirts of the city because with the short-term rental and tourism going on here, a lot of people are vacationing here that want to be near the lake and by the beach,” John Gill, the executive director of the South Haven Housing Commission, said.

The city has seen rising property values and total taxable value increase in recent years.

“We’ve enjoyed the benefit of higher end housing but we recognize it’s time to do something different,” Dissette said.

One of the goals of Monday’s meeting was to start getting feedback from residents. South Haven is planning to schedule several more meetings in the coming months to look for housing solutions.

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