The effects of the housing crisis are being felt all across the state of Michigan- from Kalamazoo to Mackinaw City, the cost of housing continues to rise astronomically as availability stagnates.

Though the housing shortage is nothing new to the Traverse City area, businesses are already starting to feel the strain as the upcoming tourist season approaches. Northern Michigan businesses, particularly breweries and brewpubs, have come up with a unique solution to this issue: buying properties to house employees themselves.

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So far two northern Michigan breweries, Short's and Stormcloud Brewing, have purchased properties with the intent to house seasonal workers and provide interim housing for full-time employees while they're waiting for more permanent housing to become available. So if you were wondering how bad things are, that's how bad things are.

Short's Brewing Co.

Short's recently purchased the Bellaire Inn, a 26-room property, to provide temporary housing to new hires. In a press release CEO Scott Newman-Bale says,

We’ve missed out on (non-local) candidates because they can’t find a place to live, and we’ve had employees move out of state because of the lack of affordable, workforce housing

These rooms will include all utilities and will come fully furnished with a microwave, bathroom, and a fridge. Short's plans to further help the situation by offering nearby businesses first dibs at the remaining rooms for their own incoming staff. The brewery hopes to continue to operate the property as an inn to help offset costs and is currently in search of a full-time inn keeper.

Stormcloud Brewing Co. 

Similar to the Short's situation Rick Schmitt, co-owner of Stormcloud Brewing Co. in Frankfort, has purchased a triplex apartment complex in hopes of luring potential employees. In the past Schmitt says he has also struck up deals with local campgrounds and borrowed RVs to house employees.

Creative Solutions

According to Bridge Michigan businesses are finding other extreme and creative ways to house employees. Cherry Republic, a specialty gift shop with six locations across Michigan, has purchased two mobile homes and is spending nearly $75,000 to add three rooms to the basement of a home they purchased near their Glen Arbor location.

It's gotten so bad that authorities at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore have turned to the surrounding community for help, asking them to rent out rooms in their homes to incoming summer staff so as to not fill up nearby accommodations that typically bring in tourist dollars during the busy season.

Mike Rivard, the president of the Sleeping Bear Gateways Council told Bridge Michigan,

The advent of Airbnb and VRBO just exacerbated the problem of seasonal workforce housing...Prior to that, if someone had a cabin or vacation home and it wasn't being used, they might lease it out to a summer worker for a fairly reasonable amount

The bubble has got to burst sometime! What's it going to take to solve the housing crisis not only Up North, but across the entire Mitten?

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