Downtown Grand Rapids is an area full of beautiful scenery. Take a walk down Monroe and you will run into well-kept parks, colorful museums, and historical monuments. Restaurants fill the air with tasty aromas. What can be alarming though is the presence of homeless people on every street corner. Some without a home are employed, but they can’t afford our cities extremely high cost of rent. They are on a waiting list for affordable housing which can take months, even years to qualify for. The city commission is reviewing strategies at city hall. It is their aim to try and fix the affordable housing issue. A lot of residents have been complaining about how quickly prices on the housing market have changed.
Strategies That Are Being Implemented
A main concern of residents is the fact that many low-income home owners have to pay high taxes on their property. A $1 million dollar fund was set aside last year to help fix that problem. It offers the option of paying a low service charge on a mortgage instead of paying property taxes. The State’s Low Income Taxing Credit program is trying to be of more help. This program provides the most amounts of affordable housing units in Grand Rapids.
An increased amount of pressure is being put on the developers who create new construction. Policies are being changed so that more concentration is put on affordable housing. Neighborhood Enterprise Zones has now changed its criteria. The tax exemption period has been shortened from 12 to 9 years.
What makes a house affordable in the City of Grand Rapids is if its annual cost is no more than 30 percent of their annual income. Low income is considered to be $23,250 a year for a single person.
Home ownership incentives have been put into place. The city is also buying property to create more affordable housing. The Housing Now! Project is currently partnering with residents and housing developers to create better solutions for our community.
Suggestions for Our Community
As residents of this growing community we have to make moves to ensure that progress is going in the right direction. Get involved with your community as much as you possibly can. Got to grandrapidsmi.gov, and contact our Managing Director of Community Services. There is also an Economic Development Director, and Planning Director at City Hall. Be present at City Commmission Meetings.
Street parking is an ongoing issue. It seems like a competition every morning just to find a good parking spot near your house. Decreased property values have made many residents upset. Stand up for your rights. Make connections with the managers of the Housing Now! Project. If more effort and unity is put forth, we will see improvements in the affordable housing crisis.