- Associated Press - Monday, December 21, 2015

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - A housing shortage in the Traverse City area is hurting many industries in the region, including construction and health care, according to experts.

Sarah Lucas, regional planner for Networks Northwest, told the Traverse City Record-Eagle (http://bit.ly/1TZ1kNI ) that a housing crisis in the popular northern Michigan tourist destination is becoming a business and economic development problem.

“We hear pretty regularly they find the right person, they make a job offer, and then that person will … try to find a place to live in the area and they can’t find it and they will turn the job down,” Lucas said.

Developers can’t build housing because they lack workers and workers can’t relocate to the area because they can’t find affordable housing.

Doug Luciani, CEO of TraverseConnect, the umbrella organization for the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce, said housing has become a critical issue for all businesses, but especially seasonal industries, including tourism, construction and agriculture.

The housing shortage also discourages candidates from applying for jobs at Munson Medical Center. Jeff Rose, corporate director of human resources, said those of all income levels are affected and his staff works to help new employees arriving in the area find places to live.

“We do everything we can but, absolutely, there have been times we have not been able to bring people in because of the housing,” Rose said.

Developer Thom Darga has an upcoming project that will require 150 to 200 construction workers for three to four years, but potential workers lack places to live. Last year, Darga advertised openings for several skilled trade positions and received just one qualified application.

Darga said there are several issues at play, but he calls the region’s housing shortage - especially for people in the middle-income bracket - a root cause.

“People want to come up here and they would like to stay, but where are they going to live,” Darga said.

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Information from: Traverse City Record-Eagle, http://www.record-eagle.com

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