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Community Updates: Friday, January 27

Grand Rapidians continue to express frustration over lack of affordable housing in the City at Tuesday's City Commission meeting; City of Grand Rapids announces 2023 plan for lead service line replacements; and more
The buildings of downtown Grand Rapids (JW Marriott, Crowe-Horwath, etc.) and the Sixth Street Bridge lit up at night

The buildings of downtown Grand Rapids (JW Marriott, Crowe-Horwath, etc.) and the Sixth Street Bridge lit up at night /John Rothwell

Grand Rapidians Continue to Express Frustration Over Lack of Affordable Housing in the City at Tuesday's City Commission Meeting

Two weeks ago, the Grand Rapids City Commission held a public hearing session for a proposed Brownfield project on the City's northwest side. According to the presentation that was given at the January 10 meeting, this project would create approximately 30,000 square feet of office space and sixteen housing units with estimated monthly rental rates of $1,335/month (for a studio), $1,540/month (for a one-bedroom), and $1,900/month (for a two-bedroom). During the public comment portion of this hearing, Grand Rapidians expressed frustration over the lack of affordable housing in the City, especially in response to recent discussions around "criminalizing" homelessness.

At the January 24 meeting of the Grand Rapids City Commission, another Brownfield project was proposed on the City's southeast side. This project would involve the construction of two new, all-electric buildings containing both commercial and residential spaces. Of the 57 new market-rate housing units that this project would provide, 4 are studios, 27 are one-bedroom units, and 26 are two-bedroom units. According to the report, the estimated monthly rates for these apartments are:

  • $1,175/month for a studio (<80% AMI)
  • $1,531/month for a one-bedroom (<100% AMI)
  • $2,817/month for a two-bedroom (140% AMI)

Commissioner Nathaniel Moody of the Third Ward expressed some concern with this project due to the estimated price of rent provided by the developers. "My biggest concern is that the area in which this is going to be located is an area where a lot of poverty exists among people," he stated. "It'd be very difficult for a family who really needs a home to be able to stay in this building." In response, the developer further explained the breakdown of the project's funding and how they calculated the price of rent. He also referenced conversations that the development team had with ICCF Community Homes, a nonprofit organization that works towards housing justice in the City. Commissioner Jon O'Connor of the First Ward also chimed in, saying that: "I think as a community... and as a study of the urban environment, we recognize that a concentration of one type of housing isn't good for any neighborhood." He also mentioned Tapestry Square, a low-income housing tax credit project built by ICCF in 2022, that is across the street from this project.  

Several residents took to the podium to voice concern and frustration about the City's consideration of these Brownfield projects while Grand Rapids is still experiencing a lack of affordable housing. "It's just not right... no one can afford that price, not in that area at all," one resident stated. "We need something more affordable to keep our people in the community and not keep pushing us out." Another resident expressed support for the investment in the City's south side and the use of clean energy, but could not support the high price tag. "I really truly do like this project, but I just wish it was just more affordable," he said. "People are tired of struggling... poverty is serious."

To see the full January 24 City Commission meeting, visit the City of Grand Rapids YouTube channel, or view below:


City of Grand Rapids Announces 2023 Plan For Lead Service Line Replacements

According to a press release that was sent out on Thursday, January 26, the City of Grand Rapids is planning to replace over 2,000 lead service lines throughout the City in 2023, "the most it has ever planned to replace in a single year."

The City's process of replacing lead service lines in Grand Rapids began in 2017, with City leadership allocating $6 million a year for this program. However, Grand Rapids has seen a boost in funding for the replacement of the City's lead service lines over the last few years, including over $5 million from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and $10 million from the State of Michigan. These funds will be used to help ensure that the City complies with the Lead and Copper Rule adopted by the State of Michigan in 2018.

So far, Grand Rapids has replaced 3,100 lead service lines throughout the City, but 23,000 still remain. Nevertheless, the City of Grand Rapids Water System maintains that the water is safe for Grand Rapidians to drink. Wayne Jernberg, the Grand Rapids Water System Manager, made the following statement in Thursday's press release:

"Since 1994, the City has treated the water with an orthophosphate blend to limit pipe corrosion and reduce the potential for lead in your water. We also test the drinking water annually for lead at 50 homes throughout the city... The lead test results are reported on our website and have consistently been below the allowable levels set by the State of Michigan and the federal government. We also monitor the water quality daily both at our plant and at over 40 locations in our distribution system. We continue to meet all regulatory standards set for our water and are proud of our excellent water quality."

The full list of lead lines scheduled to be replaced by the City in 2023 can be found below. The City also stated that this list may change if more funding becomes available:

9th St. NW Fremont to Alpine
Alto Ave. SE Worden to Franklin
Ballard St. SE Kalamazoo to Giddings
Benjamin Ave. SE Hope to Fulton
Beulah St. SE Lafayette to Madison
Cesar E. Chavez Ave. SW Beacon to MLK
Coit Ave. NE Bradford to Matilda
Courtney St. NW Valley to Garfield, Garfield to Tamarack
Crescent St. NE Grand to Fuller
Dean St. NE Monroe to Oakwood
Deloney Ave. NW W Fulton to Veto
Dickinson St. SE Kalamazoo to Giddings
Emerald Ave. NE Leonard to Sweet
Fremont Ave. NW Myrtle to Webster, 7th to 9th
Garfield Ave. NW Walker to 12th
Gilbert St. SE Madison to Paris
Giddings Ave. SE Burton to Boston
Graceland St. NE Monroe to Diamond
Grand Ave. NE Flat to Lydia, Frontage Road to Flat, Hawthorne to Parkwood
Griggs St. SE Kalamazoo to Giddings
Gunnison Ave. SW Butterworth to Park
Harlan Ave. NE Frontage Road to Flat
Jackson St. NW Valley to Garfield, Lane to Jackson Pl
Kenwood St. NE Oakwood to Plainfield
Lafayette Ave. NE Dean to Burr Oak
Linden Ave. SE Griggs to Dickinson
Milton St. SE Carlton to Norwood
Neland Ave. SE Bates to Thomas
Norwich Ave. SW Curve to Hayden
Orville St. SE Kalamazoo to Giddings
Page, Carrier, Lister St. NE Plainfield to Lafayette (approx.)
Park St. SW John Ball Park to Richards
Patton Ave. NW Bristol to Walker
Pine Ave. NW Walker to 10th
Plainfield Ave. NE Marywood to Ellsmere
State St. SE Lafayette to Madison
Travis St. NE Coit to Lafayette
Turner Ave. NW 7th to 8th, Webster to Richmond
Union Ave. NE Lyon to Crescent
Wilbert Ave. NE Ann to Dean


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