Frankfort resident Elise Crafts has been selected to lead a project that will address the critical shortage of housing for seasonal employees in communities around the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
The Sleeping Bear Gateways Council (SBGC) chose Crafts from among a number of applicants to serve as project manager for a grant-funded Seasonal Workforce Housing Project. The two-year project is supported by grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Program, Traverse City Rotary Charities, and the Grand Traverse Community Foundation, in addition to SBGC funds.
Crafts is a certified community planner and developer who operates her own firm, Statecraft, from an office in Traverse City. She has assisted Mancelona, Elk Rapids, Grand Traverse County and other communities in project planning and implementation. Under the contract with SBCG, Statecraft will devote a portion of its professional efforts to the Seasonal Workforce Housing Project for the next 24 months.
“I am thrilled to support the Council’s work in identifying and implementing solutions that will result in more housing for workers in Benzie and Leelanau counties,” she said.
“This project combines my personal interest in real estate with my professional experience in community development and I am fortunate to work alongside a fantastic and dedicated team of community leaders. It’s a win-win-win. We are eager to begin.”
A 2019 study commissioned by SBGC found that many businesses in Benzie and Leelanau counties have been forced to reduce hours, eliminate services, or close entirely because they were unable to hire enough workers for the busy summer season.
“We are extremely pleased to add Elise to our team,” said SBGC board member Bill Witler. “With Elise on board, and with strong local support, this project will help ensure that businesses can hire employees to provide needed services for our residents and visitors.”
The Seasonal Workforce Housing project was initiated to evaluate a range of actions that could help make housing more available for seasonal workers.
As project manager, Crafts will work with employers, community leaders, housing advocates and others to evaluate a full range of possible actions, potentially including new construction, conversion of existing buildings, “work camping” facilities, expanded bus or bike options, and more.
She will also continue and expand SBGC’s web-based Seasonal Employee Housing Exchange, which helps employers connect potential employees with available housing.