Affordable housing crisis takes center stage at City Commission meeting

Feb 22, 2017

Organized by movement Grand Rapids Homes for All, dozens of people showed up to the City Commission’s meeting in an effort to put pressure on the commission to address the affordable housing crisis. Grand Rapids Homes for All’s Jolanda Howe says the city needed to hear firsthand from real people who are suffering. 

“We have a lot of disparity in terms of who owns homes, whose renting homes, there is racial disparity there, there is income disparity there, and so we are concerned about that,” Howe said. "At Grand rapids Homes for All because we see that there are so people in our city who are being left behind who are being priced out of their neighborhoods. And we want to see our city grow in a way that brings everybody forward and everybody up.” 

City Commissioner Dave Allen told WGVU at the meeting the city is doing everything in its power to address affordable housing.

“I think if you look at the existing state and federal funding for affordable housing, we are hitting on all cylinders here, we have some of the best non-profit housing corporations our habitat’s one of the highest producing habitat chapters in the nation, and the city fully supports them, with the existing things that are there we are doing all that we can, and I think we are doing it at a high level," Allen said.

However, even on the City’ Commission’s official agenda the affordable housing is referred to as a “crisis.” Allen says the city is facing this head on by creating a fund generated through income taxes received on current developments.

“Our goal is to raise $10 million within two years to help support this kind of affordable housing, and I think we are on our way, we have to put a few things in place, I would envision in the next couple of months the Mayor’s housing committee will come up with some recommendations that the commission can vote on,” he said.

Last October, Grand Rapids Mayor Roslynn Bliss appointed a 20-member Housing Advisory Committee to look at the affordable housing crisis. Their next meeting is scheduled for March 21st.