Economic Studies Can Lead to Solutions

The need for housing in Door County has been well documented over the years, but despite the need, somehow seasonal workers find a way to secure a place to sleep during temporary stays.

Year-round residents who help staff hospitality and retail businesses often find a series of temporary housing solutions, in some cases moving three times per year to maintain housing so they can continue to live and work in Door County.

With these facts in mind, some have asked a reasonable question: why did DCEDC, along with other parties from the private and public sectors, invest in a countywide Housing Analysis?

The answer is that, despite the fact that our housing issues are well (but not universally) known, it was also important to understand the number and type of housing units that are needed across the county by region.

It was not shocking to most that the Housing Analysis revealed a significant structural deficit totaling hundreds of housing units in both central and northern Door County.

So how do the results of the Housing Analysis help?

Door County’s critical housing deficits will be solved by private-sector developers who will need private financing to build their housing developments. Many, if not all, will be local, but if their developments do not overcome the deficit, some developers may come from outside the area.

Some of these developments may be built, in part, by municipalities that creatively reduce Door County’s relatively high cost of construction by incentivizing land for development. That land would carry specific covenants to ensure that housing developments meet the necessary objectives – to house year-round, employed residents who are income-constricted, for example.

Private developers will use the outcomes from the Door County Housing Analysis to help them secure the financing they need to get more housing built here. Because housing is largely financed by the lending community and investors, data from the Housing Analysis will be crucial to ensuring that adequate financing is secured.

DCEDC commissioned a third-party study that provided specifics about needed housing: senior, market-rate, workforce (attainable) and seasonal. It’s likely that the resulting development that helps to overcome this long-unfulfilled need will be influenced in some way by the results of the Housing Analysis.

DCEDC encourages the public to attend one of three informational meetings scheduled in northern, central and southern Door County this month. These meetings, presented by DCEDC’s Attainable Housing Committee, will help people better understand the crucial need and the crucial next steps to ensuring that Door County has adequate housing to eliminate its deficit.

Jim Schuessler is the Executive Director of the Door County Economic Development Corporation (DCEDC).

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