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Despite Highly Engaged Community, Heartside Residents Fear Displacement

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

Voices of Heartside discuss satisfaction with their neighborhood in 2019
Documenting resident voice is particularly important during surges of development like the one that Heartside is experiencing

Documenting resident voice is particularly important during surges of development like the one that Heartside is experiencing

Attend a Community Meeting To Learn More!

Want to learn more about the results of the Heartside Resident Satisfaction Survey Dwelling Place is hosting a series of events to discuss and share the survey findings:

Community members gather to learn from one another about issues in the neighborhood

Community members gather to learn from one another about issues in the neighborhood

“It's growing in a positive direction, people are listening to resident suggestions”,  a resident of the Heartside neighborhood responded when asked to describe the strengths of their neighborhood as part of the Hearside Resident Satisfaction survey. The Heartside Resident Satisfaction survey, administered by Dwelling Place in the summer of 2019, is a tool used to measure resident satisfaction and document the experience of residents living in Heartside. This survey allows resident voice to be heard,  which impacts improvements to quality of life. The previous survey from 2016 served as a catalyst for the City of Grand Rapids to launch an in-depth neighborhood action project known as the Heartside Quality of Life Study.

This large-scale engagement builds on the data currently known about Heartside and its residents. The 2016 Heartside Satisfaction Survey, conducted by Dwelling Place, served as a key catalyst for the Heartside Quality of Life Study. This year, as the action items of the Quality of Life Study come to fruition,  it was prudent to conduct another survey to measure the impact of past initiatives and guide future community programming. Community members will be invited to discuss, respond to, and learn about these data at an upcoming event on January 6th. 

The 2019 survey collected feedback from 270+ residents with permanent addresses within the Heartside Neighborhood on Cherry, South Division, Fulton, Weston, Commerce,Sheldon, and Ionia streets.

The first thematic area to emerge from the survey results is a desire from residents to live in Heartside. From the survey, 65 percent of residents wanted to stay in the neighborhood while 35 percent wanted to move elsewhere. Also, 82 percent of residents would recommend Heartside to others. “Heartside has this United We Stand attitude and that makes it a great place to me”.  Survey respondents identified that the community has a lot of amenities that make life both comfortable and convenient. One resident alluded to the network of support that also exists, saying, “Many resources to help those who want to better themselves. Many resources to help the homeless as well”. 

Despite these positive feelings for the neighborhood, residents fear being displaced. One person remarked, “I feel like gentrification is well on its way and I hope the community can keep the ones that have lived and survived here in mind.” This comment is reflective of the fact that 54% of residents are concerned hat they will no longer be able to live at their current apartment because of changes by building management. This is especially important to recognize when considering that 67 percent of residents are concerned that they won’t be able to afford someplace else in Grand Rapids if they have to leave Heartside. From a resident’s perspective,  “New development[s] do not appear to take into account low income, [which] means below $600/month.” 

Community involvement was identified by respondents as a central theme to the neighborhood, as well. This rings true throughout the survey. One resident made the comment,  “I like the community, people, things I do here.” At large, 74 percent of residents support local businesses, 75 percent support social events, 39 percent volunteered to help others in the community. In terms of community participation, residents partake in activities ranging from volunteering to neighborhood improvement projects to community organizations. “The community involvement program[s] are great,” one respondent said.  

Beyond these three key findings, there is much more to be learned from the details of the Resident Satisfaction Survey.

Want to learn more? Dwelling Place is hosting a series of events to discuss and share the survey findings:

- Agencies and staff serving the Heartside area are invited to join Dwelling Place on December 3rd, 2019 from 11:30am- 1pm, please RSVP here.

- Residents, volunteers and community members who would like to learn more are invited to attend a community presentation and open house on January 16th from 6-8pm at 106 South Division, please RSVP here.


With a mission to improve the lives of people by creating quality affordable housing, providing essential support services and serving as a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization, Dwelling Place serves families and people in 4 counties across West Michigan. Dwelling Place is powered by volunteers and numerous staff persons, guest writers create our Rapidian content. Thanks to Karim for his contribution. Karim is a fall Intern member at Dwelling Place helping with Community Building and Engagement Data Management who loves Heartside and Grand Rapids in general. 


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