You are a retail clerk, a teacher, a chef, a worker at a local manufacturing plant. You are single, married, with children or without. You work in Holland--but you can’t find an affordable apartment or home, so you commute miles to work or you double up with friends and family. You are an employer, but potential employees turn down your job offer because they can’t find a place to live here.
In Holland, and Ottawa County, people in need of rentals have struggled for years to find housing that suits their needs and matches their income. For them, relief from unaffordable housing can’t come soon enough. A recent proposal for a mixed-income rental development in downtown Holland was defeated by a 5-3 vote in city council.
“It is not just those you see on the street corners with signs, but individuals who have jobs and are one paycheck away from being homeless,” ACEH board member Viola Jackson-Cleveland said. “When you have to decide on dinner or paying rent, that is a sad statement for our community.”
It’s the age-old problem of supply and demand. The rental supply is not meeting the demand, driving up rental rates. Civic leaders recognized the problem in 2014 and began to collaborate to address the need. In early 2015 the team finalized the Ottawa Housing Next document with data supporting the need for affordable housing. This study shows that while poverty plays a role in the need for affordable housing, the reverse is also true: the lack of affordable housing is creating poverty. Housing Next was implemented in November 2017.
The ACEH Board has chosen to face this issue head on. After hosting a forum in October, the board is looking for ways to keep the conversation going, partners to collaborate with and answers that will help sooner than later. If you have a question or suggestion or want to be part of the (un)affordable housing discussion, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Housing has become a burden that the poorest and most marginalized members of our community are carrying. People are tired of not having enough to make it. They are tired of being one emergency away of loosing everything despite going to work every day. We need to show them there is support and action being taken.
The ACEH believes this issue needs to stay in front of our Civic Leaders. They need to understand that housing is hurting people and we will do this with tents and signage!
Email ACEH Board Secretary Annette Manwell, at email@example.com, to request a sign. There are plenty available.