It's no secret that finding a place to buy or rent in Grand Rapids is challenging. Homes are taken off the market as soon as they are listed.

In fact, Grand Rapids has one of the tightest rental markets in the country, with less than a one percent vacancy rate.

"Government has a small role all-in-all in affecting housing in the community, but we want to make sure we're doing everything we can to either get out of the way or try to make it happen," Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom said.

City leaders are trying to make it happen with a brand new proposal to change the shape of the housing market.

"In Grand Rapids, this City Commission is really focused on trying to make sure people have housing choices and that people who want to live here can afford to live here," Sundstrom said.

The proposal sets out 11 specific ordinances, from regulating rental applications to establishing an Affordable Housing Preservation Fund.

"It's to remove barriers for development. It's also to provide incentives for developers to provide housing in Grand Rapids, particularly affordable housing," Sundstrom said.

It's not limited to a specific part of the city.

"There's a housing issue in all of portions of the market from the very highest end to the very lowest end, and Grand Rapids is a hot place to be right now; but in fact, the housing market is like that across the country," Sundstrom said.

Commissioners will meet for a work session on Nov. 28 to comb through all of the facets of the housing package.

"This is to address the entire community housing choice for all, but the people who seem to be getting squeezed out of the housing market right now are the people at the bottom end of the market, so it's to try and ensure we have affordable housing here in Grand Rapids," Sundstrom said.

There will be several public hearings on the subject, so that neighborhood and business associations can weigh in on the proposal. To read all about Housing Now! visit the city's website.

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