Housing for a Growing City

Grand Rapids is growing. We are creating a place where people want to be and are one of the top housing markets in the country. Great img_3582news for a vibrant city, but this also creates conversation around housing stock and affordability, and implications for low- and middle-income earners, as well as first-time homebuyers. What does this mean for our city’s future? How do effectively manage this complex issue? What policy discussions does it create, if at all?

On October 14, policy makers, city officials, state housing experts, local developers, non-profits and residents—nearly 120 people in all—gathered at the Chamber’s final Issue Summit of 2016 to discuss just those kinds of concerns. The half day summit featured keynote presentations from Kevin Elsenheimer, Michigan State Housing Development Authority, and Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, City of Grand Rapids, as well as a panel discussion from industry experts:

    • img_3583Kurt Hassberger, Rockford Construction
    • Ryan VerWys, ICCF
    • Lamont Cole, Grand Rapids Urban League
    • Monica Steimle-App, 616 Development
    • Gustavo Rotondaro, Métrica

Since the last census, Grand Rapids’ population has increased by 33,000 and is expected to add 70,000 by 2020! Questions around housing quickly rise to mind.

If you missed the summit discussion, here are 5 keys to housing you need to know.

  1. Big Idea: Housing is a complex issue and often is a critical component to many other issues. Housing sits at the intersection of race, income, education, population density, employment and workforce development, transportation, quality of life factors and many individual needs and preferences.
  2. Greatest Challenge: Balancing affordable housing with market rate housing. We must figure out how to work with private/small landlords, as well as large developers, on costs/rents in order to match competitively with actual incomes.
  3. Greatest Opportunity: Collaboration and the spirit of partnership to deliver innovative solutions. The complexity of housing demands a wide range of expertise to come to the table.
  4. What’s Needed: Ongoing collection and analysis on a spectrum of data, intentional inclusion efforts to address systemic racial and income equity, continued financial education and credit repair assistance for low- and mid-income families, creative and flexible programs/tools to incentivize change and meet residents’ needs
  5. Silver Lining: We’re victims of our own success—transition from foreclosure crisis and fixing neighborhood blight to incredible housing boom and near capacity downtown residential market.