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Published in Nonprofits

Housing nonprofits able to purchase, develop affordable housing on vacant GR properties

BY Monday, August 31, 2020 04:16pm

GRAND RAPIDS — Nonprofit housing organizations will now have the ability to purchase and redevelop up to 60 different foreclosed properties for affordable housing projects.

The Grand Rapids City Commission voted last week to set the criteria for the State Land Bank Authority on how it can market properties for the city. 

Housing Next Executive Director Ryan Kilpatrick COURTESY PHOTO

Allowing housing nonprofits to purchase and redevelop properties was a decision made in response to the recently published Housing Next study, said Jonathan Klooster, an economic development coordinator for the city. The report indicates Grand Rapids needs to add nearly 9,000 housing units to keep up with housing demand.

The city of Grand Rapids previously worked with the Kent County Land Bank until the county dissolved its land bank authority, prompting the city and the state Lank Bank into an agreement in October 2019. 

The city commission’s vote makes available 60 vacant properties to housing nonprofits to purchase and develop. Of those, about six of the properties are large enough for multiple housing units, said Housing Next Executive Director Ryan Kilpatrick. The rest would likely be suited for single family homes.

“These 60 properties are definitely not the end all solution (to affordable housing), but the hope is — using these properties as leverage — we can start to spark more affordable housing while the city focuses on other developments,” Kilpatrick said. “Every additional unit is a step in the right direction.”

The sale of the properties will only be available for Habitat for Humanity of Kent County, Inner City Christian Federation, LINC Up, Next Step of West Michigan, Wellhouse, Dwelling Place, New Development Corp., Genesis Nonprofit Housing Corp., and 3-11 Youth Housing

“What we want to try to do is prioritize lots that accommodate more than a single family home first, but we want to make all those properties available,” Kloster said.

The nonprofits can purchase the properties if they demonstrate at least one of the following criteria:Rehabilitation for 80 percent of the area median income for home ownership; rehabilitation for 60 percent of the area median income for renters; placement of the property in a Community Land Trust; and rehabilitation for emergency or transitional housing under an existing organization’s program.

The city commission also approved the $200,458 purchase of seven tax-foreclosed properties from the Kent County treasurer that will be added to the State Land Bank inventory. The seven properties include five vacant residential lots and two commercial parcels.

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