2017-04-27 / Letters

Affordable housing should be discussed with short-term rentals

To the Editor:

The county Planning Commission’s Short Term Rental meeting consisted of a panel of residents and business owners discussing the demand and impact such rentals have on the county. The topic of affordable housing was touched on briefly, but it was determined most short term rentals are higher end homes, thus having little impact. “That discussion is for another time,” it was said.

Seasonal residents, be it summer homes or weekly renters, depend on people working seasonal jobs. Repair men and women, housekeepers and landscapers are employed to maintain the units. A substantial increase of workers are needed for the restaurant and other service industries. The more short term rentals there are, the greater the demand for seasonal workers. And seasonal workers need affordable housing. I know of a young couple who have good paying seasonal jobs and have a variety of homes to choose to rent from in the Fall. However, year after year during the Summer months, they have no idea ahead of time where they are going to live. There are at least 10 in-land median priced homes in Leelanau Township alone that would be ideal for long-term rentals, but are rented only short-term during Summer. This couple’s situation is by no means unique.

Lack of affordable housing also contributes to the lack of workers to fill the Summer positions. During last June’s job fair at the Homestead Resort no prospective employee showed up. Several businesses across the county had to cut down their operational hours or even close early due to the lack of seasonal workers.

If the short term rental business is going to prosper in Leelanau County, constructive conversation of affordable housing must be included. To kick the can down the road and “save that for another time” would be short sighted.

David Tompkins
Knollwood Dr.
Northport

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