GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Two affordable housing projects in Grand Rapids have been given the green light after being awarded about $2.1 million in state tax credits by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.
Both projects hope to provide more options to families and individuals being priced out of housing in the increasingly expensive market caused by a push to develop and invest in Grand Rapids.
“There’s been a huge amount of investment in the West Side neighborhood over the last few years, a lot of that being market-rate housing, a lot of it being commercial and a side effect of that is rising housing costs,” explained Chris Bennett, the director of Housing & Community Development for Grand Rapids nonprofit Dwelling Place.
An apartment complex projected headed by Dwelling Place, Harrison Park Apartments, is getting more than $1.2 million in state tax credits. Set to go up in the 1400 block of Alpine Avenue NW, it will have 45 units for families who are either at or below 60 percent of the area’s median income.
“What these efforts are trying to provide is a way to allow families, allow people in this income range to work and live in quality housing,” Bennett said.
Harrison Park it also provide a safe haven for survivors of domestic violence.
“Folks who’ve run into issues with domestic abuse, who need a fresh start, who have kids that need a fresh start in a safe environment to live in,” Bennett explained.
Dwelling Place is also partnering with LINC UP, another Grand Rapids nonprofit, for the Garfield Lofts project that got nearly $935,000 in tax credits. That complex will be at 100 Burton St. SE and have 36 units.
“There’s a big push right now to see how much more we can get out into Grand Rapids because so much of it has been lost as property values have gone up. There’s so many families that cannot stay where they’ve always lived,” LINC Executive Director Jeremy Deroo said. “In neighborhoods like this, probably a rental of a two-bedroom apartment has probably gone from somewhere in the $500 to $600 a month range to $1,000 or more.”
Both Harrison Park and Garfield Lofts, which are expected to break ground within the next year, target families based on income level. Some will be able to utilize Grand Rapids housing vouchers.
“It’s critical right now to provide housing for low-income families. So people that are renting places are often people that are working full-time jobs and just can’t find an affordable place to live,” Deroo said. “This is really critical to provide quality, safe housing that meets the needs of families, that is stable, that they know they can live in long-term. Their kids can have great places to live for long-term and parents can afford to stay there.”
A total of 13 projects across the state recently received some $11.6 million in tax credits from the state, but one project at a historic building in downtown Grand Rapids was denied. The Keeler Building project backed by the West Michigan Housing Alliance was rejected because it didn’t meet certain criteria for special-needs housing.
“The affordable workforce housing is becoming an issue in this city and believe me, I think there’s people trying to unify to solve this issue, but we need to address it. So we’re not giving up,” West Michigan Housing Alliance Director Jeff Dombrowski said.
Dombrowski is confident it can correct the problems and reapply in the fall.