Letter to the Editor

East Lansing’s housing code needs reform


(The writer is a former East Lansing housing inspector.)

East Lansing’s Housing Code Needs Reform

Last week, East Lansing City Councilperson Erik Altmann submitted a dark and dire warning to residents about the dangers of housing code reform. He touts codes from the 1990s as progressive. Unfortunately, these codes are now antiquated and systematically discriminatory. 

Altmann’s opinion is basically we are progressive unless you are single, young, poor, or believe in anything other than a traditional two-partner family living situation. The overlays and ordinances make it difficult to impossible for the widowed or recently divorced spouse to maintain a home they can afford. The single young professional or creative has to look to another community rather than invest in East Lansing because they cannot afford property on a low, service, or entry-level income. Rentals are only affordable in East Lansing because they are mostly subsidized by student loans, parents, or some other source. 

Additionally, the current housing codes create a supply and demand within the city’s current investment housing stock which artificially inflates the value of the property for new home buyers. Without reform and funding mechanisms in place, these properties are likely to remain investment properties indefinitely. 

The current housing prices, lack of non-student-oriented rental options, and a seismic shift in generational family values demand change to the housing code in order for the city to remain competitive and successful. Options to consider are rental price controls, accessory dwelling units, incentivizing long-term leases, and allowing roomers in an owner-occupied property, to name a few. 

One can only hope East Lansing will become a different, more successful, vibrant and inclusive place in the next few years.

Nathan Izydorek

East Lansing resident 


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