‘A place to call home’: How 2 nonprofits created a neighborhood of affordable housing

For Becca Barth, her dream of home ownership and living in Holland seemed incompatible. 

“The housing market in Holland completely barred me from my dream of owning a home. I was discouraged looking at homes in the area, realizing I could barely afford to live in places that were barely livable,” says Barth.

But that has changed. She’s now a homeowner in one of Holland’s newest neighborhoods, Park Vista Place.

She’s one of 10 new homeowners and their families recently gathered together to celebrate the completion of their neighborhood.

Nonprofit partnership

The community of affordable housing is made possible thanks to the strong partnership of two local nonprofit organizations: Jubilee Ministries and Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity.

“My new home is perfect for me,” says Barth. “I am so grateful to Jubilee for the opportunity to purchase one of their homes and become a part of the amazing community they’ve built.”

Residents of the new Park Vista Place gather to celebrate their new neighborhood. (Lakeshore Habitat)

Located on the south side of Holland, this vibrant new pocket neighborhood includes five homes built by Lakeshore Habitat and five built by Jubilee. 

Neighbors who gathered on June 24 were able to walk to a park directly across the street and enjoy time together. While sharing a meal, the new homeowners continue building relationships and describe how their lives have been positively impacted because of this affordable homeownership opportunity. 

The diversity of this neighborhood could be seen simply in the dishes each family brought to pass, representing Cuban, Mexican, and African heritages.

Joint development

This project, launched in 2019, is the first time the two nonprofits ventured into a joint development. Lakeshore Habitat completed its homes in the summer of 2022 and the final Jubilee homeowners moved in during the spring of 2023.

“Doing a unique housing project like Park Vista Place was important for both Jubilee and Lakeshore Habitat, to collaborate and grow projects alongside one another,” says Steve Grose, executive director of Jubilee. “We believe, through this collaboration, that healthy neighborhoods have a mix of incomes and that is exactly what we worked to create with Park Vista Place.” 

Steve Grose, executive director of Jubilee, and Don Wilkinson, executive director of Lakeshore Habitat, at the celebration for Park Vista Place. (Lakeshore Habitat)

Don Wilkinson, executive director of Lakeshore Habitat, adds, “When we started this project back in 2019, this is the type of community we dreamed would come to be. We didn’t want to just build houses. We wanted to build a community. And you helped us do that. We are just grateful to be part of your homeownership journey and to celebrate with you today.”

Addressing the Missing Middle

Jubilee Ministries and Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity are the only nonprofits in our community currently working to create new-build opportunities for middle-income buyers and providing opportunities for guaranteed affordability and the ability to build wealth through homeownership. 

Jubilee’s goal is to continue providing Missing Middle-style housing and homeownership opportunities to the middle-income population in the greater Holland area, while Lakeshore Habitat’s core competency is building and restoring houses, which requires partnerships with organizations, churches, businesses, and individuals.  

The Missing Middle is described as the long-neglected middle of the housing spectrum, which would allow middle-income earners to purchase homes.

According to a new report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and Realtor.com, "Middle-income buyers face the largest shortage of homes among all income groups, making it even harder for them to build wealth through homeownership," says Nadia Evangelou, NAR senior economist and director of real estate research. "A twofold approach is needed to help with both low affordability and limited housing supply. It's not just about increasing supply. We must boost the number of homes at the price range that most people can afford to buy."

In the article written by Symone Strong of BUILDER.com the shortage of homes for middle-income buyers is "likely keeping buyers in the rental market."

Second development underway

Because this development was successful, Jubilee and Lakeshore Habitat have ventured into partnership again, now on a much larger scale, developing Vista Green, a 42-home pocket neighborhood located off 36th Street, also on the south side of Holland. The first three Habitat homes are close to completion, and Jubilee will begin developing its first homes this summer.
One resident described the life-changing impact of living in the Park Vista Place neighborhood in this way: 

“For me, this home is a foundation where I can teach my kids, we can grow together … it’s just going to make me feel complete as a mother, raising two kids, that I have a place to call home. … I would like to say thank you so much. It’s just priceless; I can’t even put words to what Lakeshore Habitat is doing. It means a lot to me and to my family.”

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Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.