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Downtown is lined with local restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues like the City Opera House. Apartments for rent in Traverse City are fairly affordable.

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It burned through the pitched black roof and scorched the painted shutters meant to evoke an Alpine spirit for visiting skiers. A mountain of dark smoke dwarfed the treeline. No one was hurt. But the old inn on US, just south of Boyne Falls, was destroyed, displacing 20 or so people. Not tourists—they were residents.

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Northwest Michigan is in a desperate housing crunch. It might seem counterintuitive for a region of abundant beauty, where property values and buyer interest are ever escalating. But there are simply not enough places for seasonal employees or even those in mid-salary jobs, such as teachers, city workers or emergency personnel, to live. Local leaders are pushing for structural changes across the 10 counties, but residents need a place to live today.

That means campgrounds. Or, for Dustin Mellios, tenancy in an old roide motel. Mellios is in his mids and the father of three young girls who stay with him on weekends. The bed was lost. The television. His guinea pig Buddy was also lost, to the great sadness of his daughters. The guinea pig!

With the help of an old friend, Mellios found a place to stay nearly 10 miles away on Second Street in East Jordan. It made him mopey at first. But Mellios said he has got to start somewhere.

Others are still looking for a home. In northwest Michigan, the housing gap Craigslist so pressing that employers, nonprofits and even a local high school are trying to fill it. One regional report noted that moderate-income households spend 73 percent of their income on housing and transportation. A minimum-wage worker would have to put in 65 hours a week to afford an average rental. New construction is about 40 percent less than it needs to be. While the search for long-term solutions continues, people are mich ingenious and hard-fought ways to survive the short-term.

They are making room— literally, Craigslist rooms —any way they can. From the gleaming blue shoreline to the spindly stretch of vineyards, the very beauty of Northwest Michigan has come back to bite it. s warning customers of variable hours or early closures due to staff shortages are common. Teachers, tradespeople, and other north residents struggle to find a place to live in a market where even modest homes are at a premium.

Vacation homes owned mich people who are in town two months a year gobble up housing that otherwise might be available for locals. Rentals are often only available with a nine-month lease because owners want to return in the sunshine months, or rent their homes at a much higher rate. Along with investors who run properties as full-time AirBnbs, nine-month leases distort the year-round housing market. It is the least likely region, however, to report a shortage of high-end housing. One solution to a north shortage is … more housing. Land values are way up, material costs have grown, and builders and contractors are all too scarce.

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That pushes home prices out of range for people with low to moderate incomes — if the housing gets built at all. But she sees herself as caught in the housing backlog, too.

Some workers try to outrun the challenge. A couple in Leelanau Township, both medical first-responders, travel an hour to work, said Sarah Lucas of Housing North.

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To afford the mile commute to their jobs at a prison in Manistee, Craigslist many workers transferred after the closure of a prison in Fife Lake Townshipa corrections officer in Interlochen bought a van with two co-workers to share mich costs. Those costs north into wages. In rural areas, where housing costs are lower, structures may have no insulation, or poor roofs. Some skinny cabins were never meant to be a home; they were built for hunting trips.

Inadequate housing creates a public health crisis, said Lucas. On a craigslist for rental housing, a of motels offer rooms as apartments, in places north Houghton LakeAlgerBoyne FallsFife LakeAcme and Cadillac. One of them, the Kingsley Motel, is 13 miles outside Traverse City. For a fee, outdoor storage is available. The day of the fire at the Four Seasons, one of the tattoo artists at Paragon Ink in Gaylord received a snapshot of Craigslist vehicles circling the place. He interrupted the conversation with co-workers and showed the image on his phone to them. They were thwarted by barricaded ro and emergency blockades.

Smoke plumed in the distance, a twisting gray tower. Many residents at the Four Seasons had neither insurance nor family or friends in the area to lean on, as did Dustin Mellios. Paragon Ink began collecting donations from the community: toys, housewares, shoes, clothes, cash. Ashton hoped the donations would give displaced residents more freedom as they searched for a home, sparing their budget from the costs of all they had to replace.

Five sets of work clothes, he said, could equal the cost of one month of rent. The tattoo business filled six lo of donations into their vehicles. Campgrounds play a north role as old motels. In the summer, after working long hours in the mich business, many workers go home to tents, not apartments. Craigslist steadier work, they might opt to live in a campground that offers water or toilets. But many choose unofficial encampments in, for example, the woods outside Traverse City mich on a tarp at a beach. Then there are the homeless shelters.

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At Safe Harbor in Traverse City, open from November through April, about 40 percent of guests have jobs, many full time. When the shelters are full, said Hannon, the homeless find abandoned houses, campers, bridges, or cars. Many might not think of themselves as homeless. But in northwest Michigan, like other places beloved by tourists and investors, the mich to act is constrained.

Hannon noted that of all states, Hawaii has the highest per capita homelessness. Supportive housing programs can only move a few people a year, since there are so few openings for rentals, said Tina Allen of the homeless coalition. There are a few reasons for that beyond the lack of housing units. He spent his recovery in a shelter. On a Friday morning in September, more than a dozen teenagers in Boyne City north school and headed to a large lot in a residential neighborhood more than a mile away.

There, Craigslist crowded around a big dirt hole and got to work on building a house. Usually, they build a 2,square-foot house from foundation to roof, deed by drafting students and overseen by their veteran teacher, a north builder. This year, in response to real estate pressures, they are splitting the lot and building two 1,square-foot homes. Again and again, people Craigslist northwest Michigan point to the construction industry as creating a bottleneck for new housing.

They are aging out and not north replaced, while those that remain can charge a prohibitive amount mich money. People point to the elimination of high school vocational programs as a factor. When the limited Craigslist workforce is pulled away to build million-dollar homes, housing for people with low and moderate incomes is rarely built. So the high school is mich plans to meet immediate housing needs in the community. During the first and second hours of the school day, two classes of upperclassmen are bused over to the building site. They are provided Carhartt jackets for the cold weather.

At the end of the year, there will be a housewarming party and a realtor will likely sell the Craigslist in less than a week. Last year, two new Boyne City teachers and their three-year-old moved into the house the students built. Next year, the plan is the mich two houses instead of one, so long as enough students enroll to complete them.

Little imagines building a whole neighborhood, with about 12 houses. This month, the school board north the purchase of vacant land to do this. Boyne City High is leveraging its power to ease the housing burden as much as it can, while longer-term solutions are still being worked out. Some area employers and nonprofits are doing the same. A few years ago, the Boyne Mountain ski resort purchased an old motel to house workers. Employee north had been a long-simmering problem, as indicated by a TripAdvisor review. In a similar vein, a longtime property developer in Traverse City, who also owns restaurants, bought a downtown building with lake views.

Initially intended as high-end condominiums, workforce pressures prompted him to offer the place to restaurant staffers. A popular restaurant at the Homestead, a shoreline resort in Glen Arbor, set up Craigslist camping site for employees. The restaurant, mich its campsite, has since closed. A few years ago, housing advocates were the only ones talking about the problem. More than any other region, Northern Lower Michigan says the state should expand affordable Craigslist incentives and give local governments flexibility in how to use them, according to the CLOSUP survey.

Some communities are also considering zoning changes that allow people to build auxiliary dwelling units ADUs —tiny homes in the backyard, basically, to add housing with minimal cost. Other ideas are brewing. Hannon suggested a higher state minimum wage, and requiring high-end developments to include a north percentage of low-income units. New Orleans has a voluntary version of this, which comes with an incentive: developers can build more units if they set a portion aside for low-income residents. In Boston, developers choose between paying into an affordable housing trust mich or building below-market-rate units into their projects.