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A Holistic Approach to Housing

We do not propose a one-size-fits-all solution.

We partner with local governments, developers and nonprofits in West Michigan to remove barriers to the creation of housing at all price points -- for existing residents and for those looking to move into our communities.

We strongly believe residents should be closely involved in deciding how their

neighborhoods grow. We also believe that every community has the capacity to welcome more neighbors in their own way.

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How We Remove Housing Barriers

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The Problem

In West Michigan, we have not built enough supply to keep up with demand at all price points and regional wage growth has not kept pace with the rise in housing prices. As long as demand for housing continues to outstrip the available supply, housing prices will continue to rise and our communities won’t be able to provide a high quality of life for all.

 

Our neighbors who struggle to afford housing make difficult sacrifices that impact their health and wellbeing. Whether it’s health care, education or public safety, we all pay for the consequences of the stressors of unaffordable housing.

The Solution

We need to put the pieces of responsible community development together to address our region’s housing problem. Designing vibrant, inclusive communities is like a puzzle, and it needs multiple sectors to solve it: government, developers and nonprofits.

 

Government decides the regulations and zoning that set the borders of the puzzle. Developers decide where commercial pieces go. Nonprofits make sure all the puzzle pieces are seen and assembled in a way that ensures the community is a fair and functional place.

Our Priorities

 

Housing affordability matters to everyone.

To prosper, all people and all places need housing for all income levels. That’s why we’re working to remove the barriers to the creation of housing at all price points.

 

We’re also working to identify, promote and foster quality housing for all – regardless of income, socioeconomic background or race. We’re committed to collaborating with community partners to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in housing.

We all win when there’s greater access to opportunity and greater housing availability.

It’s a simple matter of supply and demand – and adequate supply makes housing more affordable at any price point.

Communities that have enough housing at all price points provide greater economic stability, better health and greater access to quality education for all residents.

 

High-quality, stable housing at all price points is central to the health and wellbeing of everyone, fostering relationships in the community, limiting chronic stress and supporting growth opportunities.

Building a House

Who We Work With

Local Governments

 

We partner with cities, villages and townships to reduce regulatory barriers that may impede the creation of new housing. We work closely with communities to review their master plans, evaluate local zoning standards and find opportunities to allow for more housing that aligns with the community’s vision for its future.

We collaborate with local governments on ways to make housing developments more financially feasible. This may include obtaining state or federal funding, offering a short-term tax incentive for affordable units or reducing utility connection fees or other costs associated with construction and management of a residential building.

We also work with local governments, in partnership with developers and nonprofits, to create public policy that supports housing affordability.

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Developers

 

We work with developers to find available land, create preliminary development plans that align with the community’s master plan and seek funding opportunities to support the creation of mixed-income neighborhoods with a variety of price points.

Nonprofits

 

We work with nonprofits and housing advocates to seek out long-term funding mechanisms and organizational structures to support the creation and effective management of more housing in the future.

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Lead Consultant

Ryan has an extensive background in economic development, community design and public finance. Ryan most recently served as the first Executive Director for Housing Next leading efforts in Ottawa County, The City of Grand Rapids and the expansion into Kent County. He previously worked for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and is a certified planner and economic development finance professional. He has more than 15 years of experience supporting local governments with technical assistance and best practice implementation through planning, zoning, process improvement and the use of financial tools to create economically vibrant communities. Ryan has a master’s degree in design thinking from Kendall College of Art and Design and a bachelor’s degree in community development from Grand Valley State University. 

 

Director of Policy & Communications

 

Brooke Oosterman joined Housing Next as Director of Policy and Communications to support the expansion into Kent County.  Brooke's extensive experience in economic development, policy advocacy and business support have centered around community development. Since joining the organization, she has led on cross sector partnerships to move housing supply solutions forward. This work has included policy advocacy, community will building, new tool creation and communications strategy. Brooke received her degree from Michigan State University with a B.A in Public Policy.

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