Northside Association in Kalamazoo makes plans to build houses and help residents buy them

Editor’s Note: This story is part of Southwest Michigan Second Wave In the field on the north side series.

How do you increase the number of owner-occupied dwellings in a neighborhood and help its residents become more financially stable?

The Northside Association for Community Development in Kalamazoo has a two-pronged response to these long-standing and usually complex issues.

The non-profit community development organization is working on the construction of 21 new homes in the neighborhood, which stretches north of downtown Kalamazoo to the city limits and west to east of Douglas Avenue. at the Kalamazoo River.

General Manager Mattie Jordan-Woods said NACD continues to work to create more affordable housing by implementing strategies that are part of its long-term neighborhood plan. The effort, which has been dubbed RIP-C (Residents Implementing Our Collaborative Plan), involves building 14 homes on what is now vacant property on Church Street, three on Frank Street and four on Ransom Street.

NACD Executive Director Mattie Jordan-Woods is leading the first in a planned series of meetings on affordable homeownership on December 7, 2021.“The Northside was hit when the mortgage foreclosures happened,” says Jordan-Woods, of the US economic recession from 2008 to 2010. “And so we’ve gone from 51% owner-occupied homes to about 35%. … It devastated our community. Then what happened is that there was a mass (movement) to be demolished instead of rehabilitated. So you end up with almost 200 vacant lots on the north side. So there are 21 vacant lots just in this next block.

She refers to Church Street, which provides a good example of the need to rebuild housing to fill vacant lots. Jordan-Woods says that while 14 new homes are planned for Church Street, they will not fill all of the 21 vacant lots currently on that street. Based on the planned size of some new homes, some of these lots will be combined and there will be room for around 17 new residences, she said.

Of the approximately 5,130 homes in the neighborhood, only 195 have been built since 2000, while 2,983 were built before 1939, according to real estate resource site

Along with home building, NACD recently hosted the first in a series of meetings for people to ask questions and learn what they need to know to buy one of the new homes or buy any other. house of their choice. NACD plans to work with home builders and banks to help people with limited means find ways to buy.

“So we’re going to call it affordable home ownership,” Jordan-Woods said of these sessions, which have a town hall format for people to query lenders on everything from finance programs to people having low credit means saving money to position themselves for a purchase. A meeting should take place every three months.

An artist rendering by Byce & Associates shows the floor plan of one of the homes that the Northside Association for Community wants to build over the next few years.About 40 people attended the first session on December 7 at 612 N. Park St., NACD.

The Neighborhood Association plans to build homes from 1,300 to 1,500 square feet. He has an agreement with the Kalamazoo County Land Bank to purchase the properties he needs for a total of around $ 10,000. The Land Bank allows qualified nonprofits to purchase vacant property for $ 500, then allows that organization to build for four years.

An artist’s rendering provides insight into the features that can be incorporated into any of the 21 homes that the Northside Association for Community Development plans to build.“We hope to start building in the fall of 2022,” says Jordan-Woods.

Funding for the effort began with a $ 1 million grant from the Stryker Johnston Foundation. This money is going to build four affordable housing units and create a technical center “because RIP-C also has to do with training people to get good jobs,” says Jordan-Woods. “So that they can stay in these houses that are being built.”

NACD strives to secure grants for the entire project. The construction of the houses is expected to cost between $ 8 million and $ 9 million in total.

“If everything went well,” says Jordan-Woods, “instead of starting in the fall of 2022, we would start at least two homes in the spring and two people would own by December (of 2022). “

Read more articles from Al Jones.

Al Jones is a freelance writer who worked for many years as a journalist, editor and columnist. He is the project editor for On the Ground Kalamazoo.

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