Creating affordable housing topic of LMC roundtable

Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 4:57 PM EST
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BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (WNDU) - The topic of affordable and sustainable housing attracted several people to attend a Wednesday community roundtable at Lake Michigan College.

“It can be hard for businesses to want to locate here when they don’t have housing available for, you know, the people that want to come and work for them,” said Allison Furman, Legislative Director for State Rep. Joey Andrews (D-District 38).

Experts in urban planning, policy, and architecture proposed roadmaps for building affordable dwellings based on common behavior and trends seen nationwide.

Lake Michigan College Art Lecturer Susan Wilczak, who has worked on various placemaking projects with developers, said it’s vital to create solid social zones - places that draw people together - that are attractive to all generations and also bridge the gap between work and home.

“So the expansion of having a mixed-use development where work, home, and gathering places are all the same part of community, that’s what I really like to emphasize,” said Wilczak.

Ross Hilleary, Assistant Director of Planning and Zoning for Fishers, Ind., echoed the need for towns and cities to have unifying spaces.

“We as humans, we all want to - unless we want to take some time by ourselves, typically want to be around other people and so creating that good place that we can go to,” said Hilleary.

Andrews University Architecture Professor Mark Moreno said building neighborhoods based on trust and community while allowing residents to have unique homes are key.

“The more we build a diversity of housing options for people, the more we’re going to be able to celebrate life with people who are different from us,” remarked Moreno.

One of Benton Harbor’s planning commissioners said the city is rezoning a section of the city to accommodate multi-family housing that adds density but doesn’t have a significant impact on single-family homes.

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