Community Impact Grant
Affordable housing was already a big challenge in our community and it is getting bigger. Recent estimates of the shortage of affordable housing have increased from 8,000 to 15,000 units as housing prices continue to increase and incomes have not kept pace. The issue has become increasingly urgent over the past few years as our business, government, and nonprofit partners all see the lack of affordable housing creating tremendous difficulty in many families’ day to day lives and constraining our overall ability to grow and thrive as a community. The momentum of these shared concerns, and desire to build a more sustainable future for our community, have led to the launch of Housing Next.
Housing Next is a bold effort working to decrease the number of people spending more than 35 percent of their income on housing, as that is one of the biggest contributors to financial instability for local families. Recognizing that this issue was at a crucial tipping point, CFHZ made a $500,000 investment — the largest grant in the Foundation’s history — to equip Housing Next for maximum impact over the next five years.
“I don’t think any of us can solve this problem on our own,” said Ryan Kilpatrick, Housing Next Director. “Housing impacts employers just as much as nonprofits and governments. It affects our ability to attract and retain talent.”
These far-reaching implications brought a cross-sector coalition of partners to the table through a multi-year planning process called Ottawa Housing Next, which identified the core strategies and principles that are now guiding Housing Next in its implementation phase. “It’s been pivotal in terms of setting the stage for what we wanted to do,” observed Kilpatrick. “There is a strong understanding that our work going forward will be interwoven with all three sectors of the community.”
Achieving Housing Next’s vision will involve increasing the supply of housing units by working with local units of government to collectively clarify their vision for the types of affordable housing developments they desire for their communities, and establish the regulatory environment that will allow those developments to happen. It will also involve assisting developers in accessing public and philanthropic resources to fill financial gaps that might otherwise prevent projects from moving forward.
“Simply put, we have to provide more housing for more people,” said Kilpatrick. To accomplish this, Housing Next encourages mixed income and mixed housing type developments that offer a range of sizes, configurations, and price points to meet different housing needs and budgets. Proximity to places of employment, access to public transportation, grocery stores and other necessities and community supports are also key considerations.
Kilpatrick brings an extensive background in economic development and city planning to Housing Next, and is supported by a Leadership Council co-chaired by CFHZ President/CEO, Mike Goorhouse, and Holly Johnson, President/CEO of the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation. The Council also includes representatives from the West Coast Chamber, Chamber of Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Ferrysburg, United Way of Ottawa and Allegan Counties, Ottawa County, Lakeshore Advantage and Community SPOKE. In addition to the leadership council there will be a broader Advisory Board which will have representation from developers, businesses, philanthropists, housing nonprofits, and public agencies.
While the work will be challenging, the need has never been more pressing and our community has never been better positioned to take action. “The affordability of housing impacts so many members of our community on an everyday basis in ways we don’t see,” said Kilpatrick. From our neighborhoods to our businesses and schools, the ripple effects of more families being able to find sustainable housing will have a positive lasting impact on the community for years to come.
To learn more about our recent grants, visit http://www.cfhz.org/recentgrants
Originally featured in the Community Foundation’s 2017 Annual Report. While this was written by CFHZ’s Vice President of Community Impact, Elizabeth Kidd, in 2018, we believe that stories of generosity are timeless and always relevant.