New Buffalo Area Schools to build workforce housing

NOW: New Buffalo Area Schools to build workforce housing

NEW BUFFALO, Mich.-- New Buffalo is a popular city to visit, from its beautiful beaches to its casino, restaurants and bars, and recreation. 

“If I had to make a guess, I would say it’s probably 4 times the amount of people here in the summer than in the winter,” said Adam Bowen, New Buffalo Area Schools Superintendent.

It’s a popular destination for a summer home, just a stone’s throw from Chicago.

“The price values of property are sky high,” Bowen said, “ultimately impacting those who work in this community, they’re getting priced out.”

And now, Bowen said school enrollment is on the decline. In an attempt to address this, the district is making an ambitious move, and announced plans to build workforce housing on school district land.

“We want people to live in the community in which they work,” Bowen said. 

The idea was spurred by the district’s building trades program, where students have allocated land to build one house per year for 15 years.

“We had the property, we are educating kids for building trades, and it kind of just snowballed into, ‘wow, we could really impact the community by providing workforce housing, and then also help with our school enrollment,’” Bowen said. 

The roughly $30 million housing project would include more than 80 units in townhouse-style complexes, along with the 15 traditional single-family homes students get to help build. 

All on land along Lubke Road, across from New Buffalo Elementary School.

“It’s innovative, you know it’s what the community needs, and it’s what the school needs,” Bowen said. 

The project is in its very beginning stages of approval, and so far, neighbors seem to be less than thrilled.

ABC57 News spoke with one woman who's lived here nearly 50 years, who says she enjoys the peace and quiet and space, so she's wary about the development. 

Bowen hopes getting financial grants will keep rent prices for future tenants affordable. 

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