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Chamber Blog

Greater Grand Rapids Chamber Foundation and Housing Next Announce New Strategic Partnership

Greater Grand Rapids Chamber Foundation, H and Other Partners

This morning at Haworth Inc., Housing Next announced a new partnership to grow the effort to identify and remove obstacles to housing supply and affordability in greater Ottawa and Kent Counties.

Through the leadership and contributions of Haworth and both the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area and the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, each foundation made their largest and longest commitment of funding to establish Housing Next 4 years ago. Their goal was to create workforce housing for individuals and families employed in Ottawa County who were unable to afford to live there. Housing Next has already supported the approval of thousands of new multi-family rental units and for-sale homes in Ottawa County through the revision and modernization of 6 local zoning codes with the goal of reducing regulatory barriers and increasing diversity of housing product in the market, partnering with 4 communities on the contribution of public land for affordable/attainable and market-rate housing, collaborating with 21 different developers (for-profit & non-profit) to leverage more than 3,900 new housing starts and 30 new developments across the County, managing the Ottawa and Kent Housing Needs Assessments, and assisting in the creation of the Grand Rapids Affordable Housing Fund.

To address the growing gap in housing needs in Ottawa and Kent Counties, now estimated at 37,000 units, Housing Next has partnered with the Greater Grand Rapids Chamber Foundation. Through their support and with a growing number of other West Michigan employers and organizations, Housing Next has added Brooke Oosterman as the new Director of Policy and Communications to lead the developing coalition.

“The opportunity ahead of us to improve economic opportunity and shape healthier, more equitable communities is significant and urgent,” said Ryan Kilpatrick, Executive Director of Housing Next. “We want to work with non- profit, for-profit, and public sector partners to ensure that every family in West Michigan has good housing options in safe, stable, and affordable neighborhoods.”

“Housing supply and attainability has been a major area of our advocacy work for several years, and we have been so thankful for Housing Next’s leadership in advancing solutions that align with our goal of creating a thriving and prosperous West Michigan for all,” said Joshua Lunger, Vice President of Government Affairs at the Grand Rapids Chamber. “We are thrilled to be able to support the growth of this highly effective program through the Greater Grand Rapids Chamber Foundation in partnership with the founding members and other West Michigan employers, associations and philanthropic organizations.”

“Five years ago, I learned of an important initiative, one that you will learn a bit about today. This innovative project, Housing Next, was designed to meet a growing community and business need: the availability and attainability of our housing supply,” said Matt Haworth, Chairman of Haworth Inc. ”My decision to support this project was because of its strong alignment with our values- values that extend beyond our business to the communities and people we rely on including: embracing community learning, market-based solutions, leading with design, creating value, and working to make the world a better place.”

“Blue Cross is community-based and locally operated. We provide health care coverage for nearly one million people here in West Michigan. Knowing a lot about the health and wellbeing of the people we serve – as well as the work that we do directly with employers – access to attainable housing in every community is paramount for quality of life,” said Jeff Connolly, Senior Vice President and President of West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “On behalf of the Grand Rapids Chamber, we are excited to be joining a regional effort on attainable housing. We strongly support the work of the Housing Next team to lead us through adding critical resources and capacity to address this housing crisis.”

“Housing Next’s work in Holland and southwest Ottawa County has helped support employers and the growing need for talent in our area,” said Jane Clark, President & CEO of the Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce. “This intentional work we do today sets the groundwork for sustainable and necessary growth.”

“Housing Next has provided our local governments a partner advancing best practices for land use, reimagining how to maximize housing options, and increasing density increase affordability,” said Joy Gaasch, President & CEO, of the Chamber of Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Ferrysburg. “Our entire region is feeling these pressures and the urgency is growing. It is clear that we had the need, but also the opportunity and interest, to take a step forward into this work.”

Housing Next will be immediately working to engage a broad, diverse coalition to support the projects and policies that align with the mission. They will advance this work by communicating and facilitating dialogue to articulate the value and importance of housing supply at all price points. They will provide subject matter experts to identify obstacles and solutions, and will help to organize informed support by residents, employers, community leaders, and other key stakeholders to achieve aligned policies and projects.

  • Provide up-to-date and accessible information regarding regional and local housing needs across Ottawa and Kent counties.
  • Articulate a context sensitive approach to urban, suburban, and rural communities which allow for more housing choice at all price points while maintaining the character of existing neighborhoods.
  • Educate the public that housing affordability for every household requires more housing supply as well as targeted strategies to stabilize at-risk households.
  • Build an impactful coalition of diverse voices to advance the mission and grow the target audience, seeking support from “Yes in My Backyard (YIMBY)” individuals who are prepared to take action when called upon. This includes business leaders, institutional leaders, faith leaders, community partners, and residents from every community.
  • Review, propose and engage in support of the aligned policies and projects as well as monitor all planning commission and board/council meetings across the two-county area for zoning and development items.

Housing Next needs your help. To be successful engagement from individuals and organizations is needed. Connect with us today: https://www.housingnext.org/contact

 

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About Housing Next

Housing Next partners with local governments, developers, and nonprofits in West Michigan to remove barriers to the creation of housing at all price points. It also works to identify, promote and foster quality housing for all – regardless of income, socioeconomic background or race. Housing Next is committed to eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in housing. Visit www.housingnext.org to learn more.

About the Greater Grand Rapids Chamber Foundation

The Greater Grand Rapids Chamber Foundation works to provide programming and funding that encourages free enterprise, enhances the quality of life in the Greater Grand Rapids Area, and otherwise serves as a charitable, scientific, literary, or educational source for the community. Find more information at www.grchamberfoundation.org.

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