LAKESHORE REGIONAL NEWS: Door County, Kewaunee County, Manitowoc County, and Sheboygan County

Door County selected as pilot community in statewide affordable housing initiative

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DOOR COUNTY, Wis. (WFRV) — Door County is a tourist destination, but for those who live there, finding affordable housing can be challenging.

“We have the need for permanent workforce housing year round, and then we have the seasonal worker housing issue also,” Steve Jenkins, Executive Director for the Door County Economic Development Corporation told Local 5 Friday.

To help combat that problem in their own community, the county has become a part of a statewide effort addressing housing issues.

“The thought from WHEDA was to develop innovative solutions in these pilot communities that are transferable across the state,” Jenkins said.

Door County is one of three communities selected by the Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development Authority for the initiative, the Affordable Workforce Housing Initiative.

“It’s a 6 month long process, there’s a committee already formed,” Sturgeon Bay Mayor David Ward said. “I have been asked to be part of that committee.”

That committee will work to find new solutions to the ongoing problem.

“If we want to be innovative to provide affordable housing and to provide enough of it to meet the needs, what would that be different than we do right now,” Jenkins asked.

Currently, officials say there is a lack of housing for workers in the area.

“Our employers are short of workers and so one of the things in attracting workers here is you need housing,” Mayor Ward said.

Jenkins added, “This is housing for teachers, firemen, police men. Some people, when you say affordable housing think it’s low income housing. It’s not. It’s affordable, safe, decent housing for everyone.”

And that includes another large portion of the Door County population: senior citizens.

Over the next 6 months they’ll work to find a solution.

“What I’m hoping for is that we have a process in place so we can go after that goal of providing 100 to 200 affordable units,” Mayor Ward said.

Marinette County was also selected as a pilot community for the program.

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