First Small GR Community Approved

The city commission has approved zoning for the Mel Trotter project, the construction of 16 small homes, 11 apartments and community space in the Madison Square neighborhood.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – This month, the Grand Rapids City Commission and Planning Committee approved the rezoning of a new housing project by Mel Trotter Ministries.

The project is called Hope Village and is planned for the Madison Square neighborhood. It will be located on Garden Street SE between Division Ave and Jefferson Ave.

The project will include 16 small houses in a community. They also plan to renovate an old industrial building into 11 workforce development apartments and a community space.

“We all know there’s a housing crisis,” said Dennis Van Kampen, President and CEO of Mel Trotter Ministries, “And there’s not enough housing for people coming out of the extreme poverty or homelessness. So the tiny houses kind of meet that bill by giving people something nice. It’s worthy.

The project is now in the fundraising phase. Van Kampen said if all goes according to plan, they could look at completion as early as the end of 2023. However, that timeline is flexible.

“It’s a place that belongs to them,” Van Kampen said, “And it’s a place to start that journey to homeownership.”

The program would also allow people to buy the tiny house after seven years.

“Then they can do what anyone who owns a house does,” Van Kampen said, “They can stay there, or they can sell it and use the equity to move somewhere else to another place. part of town, or wherever they want.”

The project would bring the first small community of houses to Grand Rapids. The goal is to provide an answer to a housing crisis, where affordable housing is actually affordable.

Van Kampen said Grand Rapids sees a few contributing factors in helping people get out of homelessness. The first is the lack of housing, along with rising rents and a national increase in homelessness across the country.

“COVID didn’t cause the increase, but it accelerated it,” Van Kampen said, “So now we’re seeing a significant increase in the number of families becoming homeless. And among young people, aged 16 at 24, a staggering increase . by turning that needle around.”

He said a single mother of two living in Grand Rapids had to work 77 hours a week in an entry-level job just to pay rent.

“We need to start developing more housing, like a little hometown, where that mother can actually have the option of not being in a shelter, not in a car somewhere, not doubled or tripled,” Van Kampen said, “But in a place of her own. That she and her family can thrive.

RELATED VIDEO: An inside look at homeless huts in Holland

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