Regional Housing Partnerships addressing need for affordable housing

Solutions to Michigan's housing crisis are complex, but collaborations are fueling progress. 
This article is part of the Block by Block series, supported by FHLBank Indianapolis, which follows small-scale minority-driven development and affordable housing issues in the state of Michigan.

TA Forsberg Inc’s vice president Gina Pons-Schultz and digital marketing director Bonnie Zhang at Eaton Village.
City and state officials, neighborhood developers, nonprofit entities, and other community stakeholders all agree on one thing: The solutions to the housing crisis in Michigan are complex, but collaboration will fuel progress. 

Statewide Housing Plan and Region I Regional Housing Partnership

As part of the State of Michigan’s first-ever statewide housing plan released in June 2022, there are action steps divided out over a five-year timeline. Within the Plan, the 15 different geographic regions across the state have varying demographic, economic, and housing characteristics within them. Each of those 15 regions has one lead agency tasked with developing an action plan to support the larger, statewide goal. In Region I of the Regional Housing Partnership, the Capital Area Housing Partnership (CAHP) is co-lead with the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission

Emma HenryEmma Henry, executive director of CAHP, oversees the direct development and facilitates the day-to-day operations for the nonprofit, which focuses on creating affordable housing opportunities and supportive programs in Mid-Michigan. 

“We do a range of activities — develop housing units, manage housing units, financial education, accessibility improvements in homes, home-owner rehab projects, and a lot more,” says Henry. 

As co-lead, CAHP brings together organizations in the region to talk about the housing landscape and where they’d like to see it move forward. 

“Each quarter, we have a meeting of all of our workgroups together to summarize progress and share it with Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA),” she says. “This is a five-year project that will be completed in 2028. At that point, there will be a report from every region of the state showing data, on-the-ground experience, and what we’re seeing as trends and needs for housing in the state of Michigan.”

Interior construction within a Region I Regional Housing Partnership housing development.
New housing developments providing opportunity in Lansing

Within the greater Lansing region, Henry says the trends and needs of the community are evident, showcasing staggering statistics for homelessness. 

“In 2023, there were reports that homelessness was up about 300%,” she says. “One of the biggest challenges is that we have a lack of affordable units. There have been numbers ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 more units that we need in our area to serve individuals facing housing and financial insecurity. The other is economic pressures, and so with rising inflation and costs going up, those living on the edge will have a greater insecurity and risk of homelessness.”

One of CAHP’s latest housing projects is the Walter H. French High School in Lansing, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building, built in 1925, sat vacant for many years and was donated to CAHP about seven years ago. 

“We are currently undergoing an extensive renovation of the inside. When we are completed, we’ll have 76 affordable apartments for income-limited households within the historic classroom wings,” Henry says. “We’ll also be adding a childcare center, that will serve up to 100 children, in the original locker rooms and pool area. Our organization will also be moving into the building to serve as a community hub and resource for individuals.”

Funded by MSHDA, the City of Lansing, the Ingham County Housing Trust Fund, and other investors, Henry considers this project a collaboration of local, state, and federal resources. 

Apartments will be available for lease in the next few months; tenants will be moving in before the end of this year. The childcare center and CAHP office areas are expected to be completed by the middle of 2025. 

Historic eight-foot tall windows provide an ode to yesteryear while modern amenities like EV charging stations, solar panel systems, and high-efficiency washer and dryers in each unit provide contemporary convenience. The units range from 500 to 1,500 square feet and feature one-, two-, and three-bedroom layouts. 

“We also have 19 permanent supportive housing (PSH) units for individuals who have struggled with homelessness,” Henry says. “Those units are very rare in our community and hard to find, so we’re super excited to offer those.”

In addition, 20 units will be vouchered units in partnership with Lansing Housing Commission and the other half of the units are income-restricted, up to 60% area median income. 
This house in in Eaton Village was recently occupied.
Henry says it’s important to provide a variety of housing options, including multi-family units as well as single-family, owner-occupied properties. CAHP recently had a groundbreaking ceremony for four single-family homes across various neighborhoods in Lansing. 

“Those will all be completed by fall, probably within the next four or five months, and will be listed for sale,” she says. “We sell them at the appraised value, so the market value of the neighborhood. It doesn’t bring down the prices for other individuals in the neighborhood.”

In addition to building homes and offering homebuyer education courses, CAHP also provides resources for current homeowners like the tool lending library and the Tuesday Toolmen program where volunteers build handicap ramps for those unable to access their home independently. 

“CAHP is committed to staying in a relationship with individuals that purchase homes for us and making sure that everyone in this community is able to have a healthy, safe place to call home,” Henry says. 

Workers build the frame for the roof for a house in Eaton Village.
Building a courtyard community and creating experiences in Eaton Rapids

About 25 miles south of Lansing sits the small town of Eaton Rapids. With a downtown main street lined with shops and mixed-use buildings, a unique asset in the river, and a calendar of community-wide celebrations, events, and parades, it provides a great home for a new housing development: Eaton Village. 

Brent Fosberg, president of TA Forsberg Inc., is third-generation real estate developer within the 60-year old company and has a background in residential, single-family, and multi-family homes. 

Brent Forsberg“My company’s mission statement is enhancing the quality of life and the communities we serve,” he says. “We chose that wording very carefully because communities have values. Our goal is to come in and create better connections and community capacity within the areas that we’re working. Our goal is to make those experiences happen and enhance that quality of life that’s there.”

The company’s current focus is on addressing affordability and attainability in housing across Michigan and creating models to use in communities. Eaton Village, one of those models, utilizes land that previously housed a mobile home park. The development, which is a courtyard community, echoes neighborhood patterns from the late 19th and early 20th century. The houses are clustered closer together, there’s a centralized parking lot, and some shared green space in between. 

This pocket neighborhood plan provides attainable housing at 80 to 120% adjusted area median income. This price point counteracts the fact that many Michigan residents spend more than 30% of their income solely on housing. Forsberg says this is the first project of his that specifically focuses on this. 

“When I started in the ‘90s,  just over 70% of new construction housing was affordable to the median income of an area. Now, we’re down to under 25%,” Forsberg says. “As we’re seeing increases in codes, rising costs of materials, labor, and a skilled trade shortage – it’s really putting a lot of pressure on housing. At Eaton Village, we’re looking at how we can build houses faster, use new technologies to make them safer, more energy-efficient and more livable.”

Eaton Village consists of 10 energy-efficient rental units ranging from 720 to 1,100 square feet. Rental rates are between $1,295 and $1,600 a month. 

Twelve one-family condos, part of the Eaton Village project in Eaton Rapids, are being built on the site of a former trailer park.
Funded by the MSHDA Missing Middle Program with support from the state, Forsberg says Eaton Village is one of the first projects in the area to utilize these new tools. He considers Eaton Rapids a great community to work with, in their flexibility to provide various housing types to attract families.

Eaton Village began in conception in 2018, but was halted during COVID. Last year, Eaton Village received a MSHDA grant, which allowed construction to ramp up once again. Plans detail the 10th unit installation this fall, with full construction expected by next spring. Financial backing was provided by First National Bank of America in Lansing, and construction was provided by Luxe Development.

Forsberg considers the Statewide Housing Plan as something that could put Michigan on the map as an example for the entire country on how to address issues holistically. 

“For us to solve this housing issue for the state and locally, it takes these collaborations and all of these groups working together to make it happen,” Forsberg says. “I’m so excited for our leadership at Tri-County and Capital Area Housing Partnership that are leading the charge for our local plan.”

Sarah Spohn is a Lansing native, but every day finds a new, interesting person, place, or thing in towns all over Michigan, leaving her truly smitten with the mitten. She received her degrees in journalism and professional communications and provides coverage for various publications locally, regionally, and nationally — writing stories on small businesses, arts and culture, dining, community, and anything Michigan-made. You can find her in a record shop, a local concert, or eating one too many desserts at a bakery. If by chance, she’s not at any of those places, you can contact her at

Photos by John Grap.

Emma Henry and Brent Forsberg photos courtesy subjects.

This article is part of the Block by Block series, supported by FHLBank Indianapolis, which follows small-scale minority-driven development and affordable housing issues in the state of Michigan.

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