Working together to ensure everyone has a place to call home.
Ottawa Housing Next will create and implement a cross sector,
long-term and regional strategy that influences leverage points in the system to ensure affordable, accessible and safe housing is available to all.
For several years, all over Ottawa County conversations have been conducted about the lack of affordable housing. In order to bring together all sectors in the county concerned about addressing this need, Greater Ottawa County United Way and its program the Lakeshore Housing Alliance was chosen as the backbone organization to move this initiative forward. What became Ottawa Housing Next began in early 2014 with a series of community conversations.
August 2014: Design Team made up of leaders in the government, non-profit, and business sectors was convened to make the case for more affordable housing.
February 2015: The Design Team finalizes the first edition of the Ottawa Housing Next document, which includes data supporting the need for affordable housing. Five strategies were identified by the Design Team as possible solutions to the lack of affordable housing and included Private/Non-Profit Partnerships, Inclusionary Zoning, Housing Trust Fund, Tax Credits, and Housing Case Management.
March 2015: The community gathers around the six strategies and discussed in depth possible implementations, potential roadblocks and first steps. At the end of the community conversation, attendees had the opportunity to commit to join a work group focusing on one of the strategies.
June 2015: Work Groups begin meeting
April 2016: Ottawa Housing Next document is updated to reflect progress. Click link above to view.
April 19, 2016: Annual Community Conversation convenes.
More than 100 people from around the region attended the April 19 Community Conversation in Holland. The keynote speaker was former Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell who encouraged the community to continue with its cutting edge efforts to bring all sectors together to solve this complex problem.
Attendees also had the opportunity to hear from a community member affected by the lack of affordable housing. Quincy Byrd spoke of the personal challenges he faced finding employment and permanent housing in the Holland area all the while trying to provide for his growing family. After years of struggle he is now an active member of the community - Habitat homeowner and Board member as well as a member of the Holland City Council - and thrilled to be able to give back.
Patrick Moran, President of Greater Ottawa County United Way presented an overview of the process thus far, focusing on the progress of each work group. Progress can be reviewed in the updated Ottawa Housing Next document (link to the document). Attendees provided input through round-table discussions and breakout sessions on the direction of the initiative and the work groups. Several recommendations stood out:
1. More actively engage the members of the community most affected by the lack of affordable housing.
2. Invite business leaders to be more involved in the process.
3. Address the issue of transportation as it relates to housing.
4. Be creative!
Josh Ghena of Cinnaire closed out the morning reminding the group of the challenges and opportunities. Commitment cards were distributed at the end of the event to encourage on-going participation.
If you have questions, or would like to get involved, please contact Lyn Raymond at email@example.com or call (616)396-7811 x213.