Leadership council unveils housing diagnostic tool

Published 12:35 pm Monday, November 1, 2021

BENTON HARBOR — Michigan’s Great Southwest Strategic Leadership Council in partnership with the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, the Pokagon Fund, The United Way of Southwest Michigan and the Berrien Community Foundation unveiled the 2021 SLC Housing Diagnostic Tool at its bi-annual Summit.

The SLC Housing Diagnostic Tool, created and developed by the Planning Commission, provided a first-ever snapshot of the supply and demand constraints found in the housing stock of Berrien County. Included in the analysis is demographic data drawn from multiple sources including the United States Census, United Way’s ALICE data and ESRI. The attendees of the summit were provided with a detailed analysis of the problems identified in the data, the solutions that may be implemented to resolve the housing concerns and a step-by-step guide for public policy-makers, developers, and advocates to pursue when seeking to improve the housing future of Berrien County.

“This is a powerful tool that will help to define the future of housing for Berrien County, from New Buffalo to St. Joseph and Bainbridge to Niles and all points in between,” said, Jeff Fettig, Co-Chairman of the SLC. “I am pleased to see that real data and actionable suggestions can be found in the tool and now it rests in the hands of those that can make a difference in our region.”

Co-Chairman, Dr. Loren Hamel, expressed support for the project.

“The SLC Housing Diagnostic Tool, will help all of Berrien County to better understand the needs of our neighbors and provide new opportunities for development throughout the region, whether it be new construction or remodeling, the tool will help to drive a better quality of life for all,” he said.

John Egelhaaf, director of the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission and lead developer of the diagnostic tool encouraged all residents, developers, public policy-makers, and interested parties to use the tool to best determine the challenges and solutions that are possible.

“This is a unique tool that is custom-made for Berrien County that will provide real data and shine a light on the real challenges that we face in housing for our friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens. I hope that this helps to create data-driven solutions that will benefit all of Berrien County in the future,” he said.

The virtual summit included nearly 90 leaders from throughout Berrien County with representatives from business, industry, nonprofit and government.