The lack of housing options within our beloved community is causing local employers difficulty in attracting and retaining workers. Concurrently, this limited supply of housing is driving up the average home sale price. Increasingly, housing is less available and less affordable for an expanding number of our community members. This is particularly challenging for young individuals and families striving to purchase their first home within our Zenith City.
The Chamber’s leadership recognizes the strong link between adequate housing and the vibrancy of our business community. We understand the ways in which an investment in housing construction and housing preservation encourages job growth and the retention of our city’s young talent and young families. We appreciate that housing, at all price points, is needed to maintain a vibrant business community and a healthy, thriving community.
As a result, members of the Chamber are participating in the City of Duluth’s Comprehensive Planning Initiative, called Imagine Duluth 2035. Specifically, our young professionals group, Fuse Duluth, has remaining fully engaged in the planning process since it began in June 2016.
Thankfully, increasing Duluth’s housing offerings has unfolded as a priority within this initiative. Some initial Imagine Duluth 2035 focus group recommendations include:
- Urging local governments to identify and develop all suitable residential building sites. This would include encouraging more infill housing by eliminating blighted housing and unsightly vacant lots. It could also include forgiving assessments and back taxes to encourage new ownership.
- Increasing the affordability of housing by developing a dedicated fund for enabling affordable housing construction, encouraging responsible alternative construction techniques and prioritizing infill development.
- Creating an investment bank and housing trust fund for rehabbing older homes. This would include incentives for radon, lead and mold testing and abatement. It would also encourage energy efficient improvements and upgrades.
- Encourage developments that have a mix of housing units for people at all income levels. This can be accomplished by making it a requirement when tax incentives are used.
With the aforementioned recommendations as motivation, the Chamber’s leadership will continue to encourage local elected officials and community members to welcome and support local housing developments. We believe we should uplift and embolden contractors who are considering investing in developing housing projects. Fortunately, our local elected leaders are increasingly making decisions that are allowing housing developments to proceed in a predictable and reassuring fashion.
We believe the Imagine Duluth 2035 initiative will soon serve as a catalyst in providing additional reinforcement to housing developers who choose to invest in our shining city on the hill. If this can be accomplished, all of us who work and live in Duluth will be well served by Imagine Duluth 2035.