Construction started this fall on the Belknap Place mixed-income housing development in Grand Rapids. Construction started this fall on the Belknap Place mixed-income housing development in Grand Rapids. MIBIZ FILE PHOTO

Grand Rapids added 658 housing units in 2021 as needs continue

BY Thursday, January 13, 2022 08:50pm

GRAND RAPIDS — The city of Grand Rapids experienced an increase of 658 residential units in its housing stock last year, 289 of which were low-income housing spaces. 

Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington reported the housing additions as part of a broader update during a City Commission committee meeting on Jan. 11. 

“There are so many things that I am thankful we accomplished in 2021,” Washington said. “Whenever I’m asked to name the top 10 or 20 of the past year, it’s just so difficult to do because there is so much that has been done to make sure our community continues to move forward amidst this global pandemic and continue its economic recovery.”

The city experienced a total of $443 million invested in a variety of developments, which was the third-highest amount in the past 21 years, Washington said.

Grand Rapids’ affordable housing stock continues to make progress as the Michigan State Housing Development Authority awarded Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) for eight projects that will result in 631 more affordable units in the city. 

LIHTC continues to be the most used tool for developers to make a housing project affordable for tenants. Grand Rapids is pursuing other ways to add housing stock as well, including creating a new Affordable Housing Fund and an Affordable Housing Fund Board that the city and other entities will contribute to with the goal of supporting more housing projects in the city.

However, the need for all types of housing units continues in Grand Rapids. A 2020 housing study that was a collaborative effort between the city, the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, the Frey Foundation, K-Connect and Housing Next found that Grand Rapids will need at least 5,340 additional rental units and 3,548 owner-occupied units to satisfy housing demand and affordability by 2025.

“We’re trying to get a little bit of a better idea of the regional (housing stock) because we know we can’t address all of the housing supply in the city ourselves,” Washington said. “So we’re trying to get a better number countywide.”

Washington noted in his report to commissioners that the 11 communities surrounding Grand Rapids experienced an additional 1,115 residential units constructed in 2021.

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