DOOR COUNTY, Wis. (WFRV) — In Sturgeon Bay, there’s an ongoing effort to address an ongoing problem.
“We work on it every week,” Mayor David Ward told Local 5. “We’re short of housing, our employers tell us that their employees can’t find housing, we know there are people who want to move to the area, but they can’t find a house.”
The coronavirus pandemic has amplified the problem, driving those who can afford the market price to make the move to Door County.
“We have a lot of people moving up here buying up properties that want to live here permanently, so the housing stock is not there, and what’s there is not affordable,” Steven Jenkins, Executive Director of the Door County Economic Development Corporation said.
Municipalities up and down Door County are working to address the situation.
“We are seeking developers,” Mayor Ward said. “One of the things that we’re looking at right now is: can we get land for development?”
There are housing projects in the works in Sturgeon Bay, like at Sturgeon Bay’s West Side School, which would bring eight units of affordable housing to the area.
“So it’s a, a little bit of a move in the right direction,” Mayor Ward said of the project.
Through the Rural Affordable Workforce Housing Project, the county hopes to make even bigger moves.
“We’re the first county selected for a pilot project,” Mayor Ward said. “We don’t know quite what the outcome might be, but we’re hoping that it might be some kind of program that will help us construct more affordable housing.”
“We’re grateful that WHEDA selected us to take a look at these possible solutions that could be applied across the state,” Jenkins said, “but it’s going to take the community’s efforts to make sure that they’re implemented and that they’re successful.”
The first step community members can take is taking part in one of two upcoming virtual listening sessions.
The first listening session will take place on Thursday, April 8 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
The second listening session will take place the following morning, Friday, April 9 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
“Hopefully, we get a good turnout at these listening sessions,” Jenkins said, “and people are able to participate, offer their opinions, and then we’ll decide which concepts to move forward with.”
To move forward, Jenkins says the county will have to start somewhere.
“One step at a time,” he said. “You’re not going to solve the problem unless you take the first step. And we see this as the first step.”