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      Retired and want to rent? It's a tough market out there

      There's a new strategy in the works to improve housing development in Grand Traverse County.

      There's a new strategy in the works to improve housing development in Grand Traverse County.

      "Over the last few years, Grand Traverse County has really been aligning different programs together in terms of housing to make it a greater priority for the county," says Grand Traverse County Planning Director, John Sych.

      After the 2-year long study, The Grand Traverse County Housing Strategy Committee has determined that there are many things that the county is lacking when it comes to providing homes for people. Two of the most important issues; the lack of rentals, and senior housing.

      But they have come up with a long term plan to help make Northern Michigan a better place to live.

      Results show that the amount of people coming to the area looking for places to rent is drastically higher than what is available, and affordable. There are very few single person rentals around, and with increasing demands, monthly rental fees have sky rocketed, making affordability weak.

      According to Grand Traverse County Planning and Development, the average monthly cost for a rental unit in the area is $789. They say, that's approximately 50 percent of the average persons salary in the area, and that studies show it should be closer to 30 percent.

      "We're not seeing a lot of the smaller units, the one bedroom apartments available at a price that most people can afford," says Sych. "They end up paying a lot more and end up renting above what they actually need."

      The amount of senior or retirement housing in the area is also a problem. With the median age on the rise in Grand Traverse County, more seniors are flocking to the area to settle down.

      "A lot of baby boomers are looking at places smaller than what they have now," says Sych. "They're looking to down size so that all of a sudden puts them in a certain need that's not being met in terms of senior housing that has some of the services and activities that they desire."

      The bottom line is, Grand Traverse County needs to help support the building of homes and rental units that support market demand.

      "We want to engage in or non-profits in Grand Traverse County that focus on housing," says Sych. "Other agencies working closer with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority to really leverage what we put in place, to make things happen."

      The Grand Traverse County Housing Strategy Committee will be presenting their results from the study and their plans to move forward to the board of commissioners at Wednesday's meeting. The meeting is at 7 p.m. at the Grand Traverse County Governmental Center, and is open to the public.