Affordable housing for GR: Inside the new plan

The Grand Rapids city commission listens to details of the Housing Now plan to support affordable housing in the city. (Nov. 14, 2017)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It could be one of the more delicate balancing acts the Grand Rapids City Commission will enter into: Creating and protecting affordable housing for residents while maintaining the economic growth so many city neighborhoods have experienced in recent years.

City officials believe some of the answers are found in a new expansive effort known as “Housing Now.”

>>PDF: Housing Now proposal for Grand Rapids

“This is one of the largest bodies of work to be undertaken by city staff in a long time,” City Manager Greg Sundstrom told city commission during their session Tuesday morning.

The 11-point program calls for a number of changes to both city policy and city ordinances.

For example, the city’s current homeowner assistance program provides first-time home buyers up to $5,000 for their down payment. Under the new proposal, that could increase to $7,000, and eligibility could expand to multifamily housing units and anyone who has not owned a home in the past three years.

A 30 member advisory board began working on housing proposals in the spring of 2016. City staff has been sorting through those ideas, and putting them into the overall Housing Now plan.

Commissioners did not take action on any of the recommendations. A workshop to discuss the plan is set for Nov. 28.