MSHDA representatives Alison Gailey and Rachel Presley, 4CCF trustee Greg Brynaert, 4CCF Executive Director Kathy Dickens and 4CCF trustees Mary Rose Clark, Tricia Dennis and Chad Stoldt (l-r) were on hand to watch a crane put the house into place on P.O.& N Street earlier this month.
In a matter of hours, a vacant lot on P.O. & N. Street in the city of Imlay City was transformed into the site for a brand new three-bedroom home. Watching the crane and crew place the modular sections into place on a frigid February morning were Four County Community Foundation staff and board members along with Michigan State Housing Development Authority representatives—the two entities who partnered together to make this unique home building project possible.
In 2021, the foundation applied for and was awarded funding through the Michigan State House Development Authority’s (MSHDA) MOD program which aims to expand local housing options for the middle-class workforce by utilizing modular products.
With the help of local contractors, including Kevin Collins from Almont-based Oasis Homes, an order was placed for the three-bedroom, two-bath home. The completed pieces were trucked to Imlay City from Pennsylvania in two sections on Thursday, February 2. They were temporarily stored at the city’s Polly Ann Trail parking lot before being moved the next morning to P.O.& N. Street. An operator from Marysville-based Raymond Cranes, worked with the manufacturer’s ground crew to expertly set the sections into place.
“As we work to mitigate the effects of the housing crisis, innovation is at the forefront of our approach to ensure everyone has access to safe, quality and affordable housing. The MOD program leverages technology and innovation to quickly meet the growing need of workforce housing to support local economic development and create equitable opportunities for Michiganders to live, work and raise families across the state,” said Amy Hovey, executive director of MSHDA.
MSHDA determined there was a critical need for workforce housing in rural areas that had experienced job growth and, in 2019, the MOD program was launched as a pilot initiative, designed to serve as the financing mechanism for modular home builds. Using modular products reduces the typical single-family home construction timeframe and allows it to be offered at a reasonable price point.
“Affordable, clean and functional housing is a critical need for the four counties that Four County Community Foundation serves. We are hopeful that this new home offered will serve as the first in a line of many affordable housing projects in which the Foundation may participate,” said Tricia Dennis, the foundation’s Board of Trustees Vice President.
Trustee Chad Stoldt concurred saying, “Imlay City is a great place to live and raise a family, but like the rest of the country, they have a housing shortage. If the foundation can help provide affordable housing, bring people to the community and get kids in our excellent schools—that’s a win for everyone.”
The state provides funding through the program to non-profit agencies, like Four County Community Foundation, local units of government and for-profit entities with a special designation. Proceeds from the home sales are returned to the program.
Craig Horton, Imlay City’s City Manager, reflected on the particular lack of lower priced homes in today’s real estate scene, “making it hard for those just entering the workforce to start the American dream of owning a home. We are happy to have a vacant lot filled with a property-owning home owner, who will love and care for their home and the surrounding neighborhood.”
Once the home is complete and ready for occupancy, the foundation will host a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house and list the property with a real estate agent. There are no qualifying factors for any interested buyers.
“This is not a cookie-cutter house,” said Kevin Collins, chief designer and co-owner of Oasis Homes.
“It was designed specifically for the site and we focused a lot of our time on making sure it was energy efficient and accessible for would-be owners of all ages.”
Collins gave kudos to Troy Wlodarczyk, a senior project manager for Oasis Homes, for overseeing operations on the day of the big move.
In addition to Oasis Homes, the foundation was proud to utilize other local contractors for this project including Jay’s Septic Services, who helped prepare the vacant lot for the new home.
“We at Jay’s have always taken pride in serving communities in this great state of Michigan since 1959 and when we heard about this project, we were excited to be a part of the team. We believe the work that Four County Community Foundation is doing to enrich our communities is valuable and necessary in making our community a better place. We hope the project will not just be a house but a home for the family that will be moving in,” said Chad Wakefield, Project/Excavation Manager for the Lapeer-based business.
As the project proceeds, Four County Community Foundation’s Executive Director Kathy Dickens welcomes assistance from other professionals in construction trades who would be able to contribute services toward finishing the interior of the home including painting.
“Obviously building this one house isn’t going to solve the housing issues our region faces and Four County Community Foundation would be open to doing other projects of this kind in our service area,” Dickens said, noting that the foundation can accept property donations.
For more information about the MSHDA MOD program, visit https://www.michigan.gov/mshda/neighborhoods/mshda-mod. To learn more about the foundation’s MSHDA MOD build in Imlay City or to offer ways to contribute to this or future projects, contact Kathy Dickens at (810) 798-0909 or [email protected].