There is not one solution to Door County’s housing issues

Finding housing – both year round and for seasonal workers – is currently a challenge for many people wanting to live and work in Door County. At a public meeting in Egg Harbor Thursday night, 40 people from all over Door County, and of a variety of ages, shared their housing stories, concerns and possible solutions with consultants from AECOM Technology Corporation and representatives from the Door County Economic Development Corporation’s Workforce Housing Committee. 
The large group was split into five smaller groups, and rotating moderators asked each group to share their stories, thoughts and ideas for helping to improve the housing market in Door County. The intro to the meeting is available on Facebook Live –  

The following are ideas and concerns the moderators heard repeated from the groups:

  • Lack of available entry-level housing to purchase, in the price range of $130,000 to $200,000;
  •  Lack of apartment units in general, with emphasis on units priced below $800 a month;
  • Amount of time spent to find an apartment or house;
  • Concern regarding perceived poor condition of available seasonal employee housing;
  • Are seasonal employees not returning, after completing their first summer of work in Door County, due to housing conditions/shortage?;
  • Zoning regulations (density/minimum home size) are perceived as being too restrictive;
  • Idea of targeting a share of room tax/sales tax/or another fee to support seasonal/workforce housing;
  • Community sustainability concerns, related to continued need and use of septic and well water, and the general lack of public infrastructure;
  • Who leads implementation efforts related to housing? Several existing organizations were discussed, including Habitat for Humanity, Door County Land Trust, Door County Housing Authority, among others.
What’s next? The consultants and their team of analysts, economists and planners will review and analyze the data they’ve collected, the interviews they conducted, and the comments from the public meeting, and come back to Door County with a report on the existing and available housing stock, identify potential ideas or areas to address, and present some possible solutions or changes to help Door County’s housing shortage. 
“There will not be one solution that responds to Door County’s housing challenges,” said Chris Brewer, AECOM Vice President of Economics and Advisory, a consultant on the Countywide Housing Study commissioned by DCEDC. “A variety of ideas will need to be studied, regulatory policies or codes may need to be revisited, and the community – residents, business owners, workers, and government officials – will likely need to work together to implement changes and spur development.”
DCEDC, in partnership with municipalities, private companies, and local foundations, is leading the comprehensive countywide housing study. DCEDC contracted AECOM, to focus on understanding and developing ideas for housing in Door County: Attainable (economically diverse), workforce (including seasonal), and senior housing.
We all know Door County has a chronic housing shortage across multiple property types, price points, and geographic locations. New employees struggle to secure a place to live, prospective hires abandon their Door County job search due to lack of housing options, and our county’s population continues to age.
The goal of this study is to put that knowledge into hard numbers, and provide ideas to help Door County municipalities work with businesses, residents and potential development on our housing shortage. 
For more information about the housing study, please contact DCEDC Economic Development Manager Paige Funkhouser: paige@doorcountybusiness.com.
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