It's one of the most transformative development projects in the city of Grand Rapids. And, with the help of Habitat for Humanity of Kent County, Plaza Roosevelt is offering affordable housing to dozens of area families.

"Fifty families will be touched by this," says Bev Thiel, executive director for Habitat Kent. "The overall goal was to raise $9 million for the community and really impact all of the lives of the people in the community. There are 400 projects. That includes home repairs, deed restrictions and some curb appeal programs. We really want to touch the lives of as many neighbors as we can."

Plaza Roosevelt — spanning two blocks of Rumsey Street SW — is the epicenter of this redevelopment project. Habitat Kent is building a total of 17 homes on this site, making homeownership an affordable reality for people like Pamela Ferreira.

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"I am thrilled to be a part of the project. It is a blessing. I have been in the program for almost two years," she says. "It is exciting for my daughter and me to invest in a stable home and stay in the community. I have been in this community for five years. I'm excited to stay here and grow and watch my daughter grow."

The homeowners are going through Habitat Kent’s homeownership readiness program. Ferreira and the others will take financial literacy courses, home maintenance training and perform between 275 to 500 hours of “sweat equity.”

"I've learned so much from trimming to the financial piece and just being more responsible," said Ferreira. "I'm looking forward to investing in the community. It is a beautiful experience."

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Since 2013, Habitat Kent has partnered with seven other local nonprofits to bring this project to fruition.

Once completed, Plaza Roosevelt will offer affordable housing, health, education and economic opportunities for the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood.

Grand Rapids Public Schools is one of Habitat Kent's biggest partners. The district is "building a $20 million expansion of Southwest Community Campus to include a high school, which will be the only public high school in the Roosevelt Park neighborhood. They have already broken ground on the school and tentatively plan to open for the fall 2020 school year."

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"So, the idea with Plaza Roosevelt is building community," says Thiel. "It took a lot of donors and a lot of supporters of Habitat Kent and community partners to get here. So, it is so much more about the community coming together for our homeowners, who we are all invested in."

Thiel says all 17 homes are enclosed and one is already finished.

"So, that means our families are ready to come inside and begin to do work," she said. "By the end of winter, we will have them all trimmed out and ready for homeowners to move in early Spring."

More information on the Plaza Roosevelt project can be found here. The organization is always looking for volunteers and financial support.

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