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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

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Biden administration moves to protect Alaska wilderness; opening statements and first witness in NY trial; SCOTUS hears Starbucks case, with implications for unions on the line; rural North Carolina town gets pathway to home ownership.

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The Supreme Court weighs cities ability to manage a growing homelessness crisis, anti-Israeli protests spread to college campuses nationwide, and more states consider legislation to ban firearms at voting sites and ballot drop boxes.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

USDA funds 28 housing units in Michigan's Alpena County

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Tuesday, January 23, 2024   

Braving the week's icy conditions, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and several members of the Legislature highlighted the state's housing crisis at the Northern Michigan Policy Conference.

Friday's conference came on the coattails of the USDA's December announcement that four counties in Northeastern Michigan are getting nearly $500,000 in federal funds to repair some dwellings in Crawford, Alcona, Ogemaw and Alpena counties to help repair more than 70 homes in the state.

Marie Fielder, community activist and organizer in Alpena County, said the 28 homes in her county are a start, but lack of affordable housing exacerbates such problems as childhood poverty, economic immobility, poor health and education outcomes based on research.

"When children live in safe, affordable homes, they're more likely to thrive in school and have greater opportunities. And we know when families have safe, affordable, dry homes, they increase their economic stability and their access within the community," she explained.

Fielder also pointed to the work of Kalvin Carter and Joanne Galloway of the Center for Change, who have task forces to promote many issues important to rural Northern Michiganders. Their focus is not just housing, but environmental issues that are impacting communities, voting access, ensuring quality food sources for everyone and a host of other issues to improve quality of life for rural Michigan.

Fielder added the housing shortage is a multifaceted issue, not just financial, and highlighted growth in short-term vacation rentals as a key driver reducing available units. She said it's an issue that is often misunderstood, and solving it will take accurate, factual information.

"Some of my tribal brothers and sisters, who are fairly economically stable, have had to go from couch to couch to couch because they simply can't get housing," she continued.

Fielder said she's curious about Whitmer's State of the State address this Wednesday, and the kickoff of the legislative budget process to follow. She is confident that northern Michigan will remain a key consideration for future policymaking.


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