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Communities Receive Awards at the 2017 Northwest Michigan Housing Summit

Housing advocates from Leelanau County, Benzie County, and the City of Charlevoix all received Community Cornerstone Awards from the Northwest Michigan Housing Solutions Network at this year's Northwest Michigan Housing Summit on October 16, 2017.

The Housing Cornerstone Partnership Award recognizes collaborative, proactive action to address complex, critical housing issues. Communities receiving the award are working in partnership with multiple sectors to lead new initiatives and explore creative solutions. Recipients of the Partnership Award were:

•  Leelanau REACH, a Leelanau County-based housing nonprofit, in recognition of its efforts to enhance education, collaboration, and partnerships to address Leelanau County housing needs. REACH’s efforts to build housing and address housing barriers have accounted for the fact that housing solutions won't come just from government, the market, or advocates alone. Instead, REACH has embodied the idea that all parts of the community must play a role in solutions to housing shortages. The organization has brought representatives together from across sectors to explore solutions, build partnerships, and create models for housing that can be replicated in other communities. 

•  The City of Charlevoix, Charlevoix Main Street, Charlevoix Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Charlevoix Area Chamber of Commerce for promoting City-wide dialogue and action on workforce housing shortages and solutions. Local business interests have advocated for zoning solutions to workforce housing shortages, leading to initiatives including zoning changes that allow homeowners to rent out single rooms for workers, and a Home Share website hosted by Charlevoix Main Street tjat provides an avenue for renters and homeowners to connect.

•  Advocates for Benzie County and the City of Frankfort, for their efforts to convene schools, government, business, and development interests around the issues of workforce development, housing production, and workforce housing development. These partners have worked together to identify development sites and opportunities to attract new business and jobs, and for students to learn construction trades while building homes at costs that are affordable to the workforce. Their advocacy efforts, meanwhile, have made housing solutions an important priority County-wide, and have helped build partnerships and engagement across multiple sectors in the community.

The awards were presented at the Northwest Michigan Housing Summit, an annual event coordinated by Networks Northwest and the Northwest Michigan Housing Solutions Network to provide opportunities to network, learn, and build solutions for housing choices in Northwest Michigan. About 200 people, representing banks, private sector real estate and development, housing and health organizations, local governments, and statewide organizations attended the event to learn about issues including the costs of development, financing, development readiness, statewide policy needs, and demographic trends impacting the housing market. Speakers included Bob Filka from the Home Builders Association of Michigan; Laurie Volk from Zimmerman Volk Associates, a market research firm; Patrick Moran from the United Way of Ottawa and Alleghan Counties; Luke Forrest from the Michigan Municipal League; Doug Luciani from Traverse CONNECT; Tom Edmiston from Cinnaire; Lily Fossel from New Development Corp; and more.

For more information on the Housing Summit, including presentations and materials, please visit

Networks Northwest always proves to be a valued resource for our local government planning efforts. No organization does a better job of convening partners, promoting collaboration, and reporting on the data than does Networks Northwest
- Ty Wessell, Leelanau County Commissioner