Seasonal Housing Exchange for Summer Workers

Seasonal Workers in Leelanau County

Jorene Williams, Dejie-ann Smith, and Joycelyn Mclean, college students from Jamaica, worked in 2017 at Anderson’s Market, which provided employee housing. Other employees or would-be employees of local businesses have struggled to find housing.

The Glen Arbor Sun writes that while getting a summer job in Leelanau is easy for college students and others seeking employment, the hard part comes in finding a place to live. This summer the Sleeping Bear Gateways Council is helping find hosts for seasonal employees through a housing exchange:

“It’s a significant barrier to anyone who’s not local,” said Isabella Beshouri, a University of Michigan student who spent a month in 2021 finding a summer rental after being hired as an intern at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

That barrier is being lowered in 2022 and beyond through an innovative “seasonal employee housing exchange” sponsored by the Sleeping Bear Gateways Council (SBGC) and funded through grants from local foundations and the federal government.

A variety of large and small businesses in Benzie and Leelanau counties will be participating in the cooperative project, linking employers with hosts who have rental space — potentially anything from a room in a home to a full house or cottage — available for seasonal workers.

By participating in the housing exchange, hosts can support familiar local businesses, while making new acquaintances and earning extra income to help offset the costs of ownership.

“Our studies show that gateway community businesses have been unable to staff up in recent summers, due to a lack of available housing for seasonal employees,” said SBGC vice-president Bill Witler. “Property owners who sign up as hosts can gain some rental income while helping to ensure that their favorite local businesses continue to offer the best possible services in coming summers.”

…The rental listings and contact information are accessible only to Sleeping Bear area businesses that have signed up for the housing exchange. Participating businesses will share rental property listings with their employees as needed, and the employees can then contact hosts directly to negotiate rental terms.

Read on for more in the Sun & check out the Sleeping Bear Gateways Housing Exchange right here!!