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Housing Next Releases Updated Data on Kent County Housing

Housing Next Releases Updated Data on Kent County Housing Housing Demand is up 59% in the City of Grand Rapids, 54% in Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – A new study facilitated by Housing Next shows housing demand isn’t slowing down for Kent County, which is outpacing the State in population growth.

Since 2010, Kent County has grown 5 times faster than the State. From 2010-2020, Grand Rapids grew 5.4% and Kent County 10.9%, compared to the state at 2%. While the state of Michigan is expected to decline in population over the next 5 years, the City of Grand Rapids and Kent County are expected to grow.

In 2020, the first Kent County Housing Needs Assessment determined 22,000 units were needed to accommodate population growth. Due to changes in the market, an update was completed to assess current demand.

The updated Housing Needs Assessment shows an increase in housing needs over the last two years, with a current housing gap of nearly 35,000 units needed by 2027, an increase of roughly 59% since 2020. The gap persists at all price points. However, lower, and middle-income buyers represent over half of the for-sale housing need while the greatest gap in rental units also falls in these income brackets.

These increased gaps in available supply are largely due to increased population and household growth. Kent County has a large population of younger people who are looking for opportunities to call the community home. “The great news is while housing is a huge issue, it is a solvable one. Efforts that drive supply solutions forward are already underway. This new data amplifies the importance of accelerating this work,” said Brooke Oosterman, Director of Policy and Communications for Housing Next.”

Additional data in the new assessment include:

  • Near zero vacancy in affordable rental options

  • 14,106-unit shortage in the City of Grand Rapids

  • 20,593-unit shortage for the rest of Kent County

  • Most of the expected growth in the rental market will be among households earning $50,000 or more. Coupled with rising rents, this puts lower income households at significant risk if new rental units are not built.

  • Rapid growth is occurring among owner-occupied households earning above $100,000. This trend is straining the market and putting added pressure on middle income households trying to buy a home.

  • The median sale price of homes increased 99.2% in Grand Rapids and 74.8% in the rest of Kent County since 2016

  • Over the last two years, for-sale housing stock priced below $200,000 has diminished drastically. This makes homeownership increasingly out of reach for households earning less than $75,000 per year.

  • A reduction in the overall percentage of the population who are considered burdened (30% or more of their income going towards housing)

“We are proud of the growth happening here in Grand Rapids and have made it a priority to support all current and future residents by advancing meaningful housing solutions. The City has invested more than $5M into a housing fund and adopted changes over the last several years to encourage housing growth. Ensuring everyone has stable and desirable housing will also help address critical quality of life and equity outcomes in Grand Rapids,” said Mayor Rosalynn Bliss.

“What we have seen in both Ottawa and now Kent County updates is that our communities will continue to grow. Housing needs in West Michigan require a regional strategy that includes local collaboration and statewide tools to overcome more than a decade of underproduction,” said Oosterman. “As we continue to lead the state in job and population growth, we need to urgently advance an all-of-the-above strategy to improve outcomes.

“The Kent County Board of Commissioners invested the largest share of federal ARPA dollars to support housing solutions. The $18 million investment in the workforce housing revolving loan fund will create a generational asset to fill the financing gap exacerbated by the labor shortage, increasing interest rates and costs of construction and supply chain disruptions”, said Al Vanderberg Administrator for Kent County

The County’s investment will also support municipalities in their efforts to be a part of the solution through grants to help cover the costs of updates to their zoning that allow for more opportunities for diverse housing stock and increased housing options.

State leaders have also stepped up to support the efforts. The legislature recently created new residential development incentives for workforce housing via a bipartisan package of bills signed by Governor Whitmer at the end of 2022. The State is also supporting housing through the new Housing and Community Development Fund and Missing Middle Housing Program.

“And yet, the combined local, state and federal subsidies and incentives can only support a small share of the additional housing supply that is needed” said Ryan Kilpatrick, owner of Flywheel Community Development and lead consultant to Housing Next. “The community will need every city, village, and township in the region to evaluate their local policies and explore how and where they might be able to support additional housing to serve the region and in balance with their local community’s desires. We must tackle this challenge together and there are no one-size-fits-all solutions.”

“West Michigan employers have made housing a top issue for not just talent attraction and retention, but in creating the type of communities where all individuals can prosper. We appreciate the opportunity to join Housing Next, the City of Grand Rapids, Kent County and other key partners in the effort to support a thriving West Michigan for all,” said Rick Baker, President & CEO of the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce.

“We know what levers to pull to make progress and, in many places, we are doing them. Gap financing, allowing more housing products to be built through zoning reform and community will building combined create an environment where residential development can thrive. Our task ahead is to accelerate this work using all of the tools available.” said Oosterman.

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