Meeting held on affordable housing in Grand Rapids

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All around Grand Rapids, developers are demolishing single family homes to erect new buildings for condos, hotels and other businesses.  

More and more often, the people who lived in those homes aren't finding any place to go. Wednesday night at Monroe Community Church a panel met to discuss what they call the affordable housing crisis. They say 98 percent of rental units in the city are occupied and very few houses are for sale in any price range.  People forced to move because of development say they have few options.

“I live up in the Coit area and my block is getting ready for demolition,” says Stella Vander. “They are pushing us out. We are competing with other people all over Grand Rapids for affordable homes. The prices are so expensive it makes it really difficult to find good safe housing.”

“This is a crisis,” says Kent County Land Bank executive director Dave Allen. “In the past 5 years 58 percent of our population has moved from one location to another, city wide. We have a structural problem we have to figure a way out of.”

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If you can find one, the panel says the average rent for a 2-bedroom home in Grand Rapids is almost $900 per month.  They say more and more families unable to rent or buy wind up living in a cheap hotel room or one of the city's homeless shelters.

“It is a huge issue,” says Allen.

“I want our city to grow,” says Vander. “It is very important. But you can’t forget about the people who are in these areas and have to look for a place to go.  You have to help them.”

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