Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity raises $1.65M for new neighborhood build

Nine months after kicking off its Strengthening Families, Building Community campaign, Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity has raised nearly three-quarters of its multi-million dollar charitable goal.

“This has been an absolutely amazing experience for Lakeshore Habitat, our leadership, and for our donors, friends, and families,” says Don Wilkinson, Executive Director of Habitat. “We started earlier this year with a dream and a goal, and here we are, nine months later and we’ve raised 70% of our $2.4 million charitable goal. The generosity of this community is incredibly humbling.”

$1.65 million

To date, the fundraising effort has raised $1.65 million with the support of 115 community donors — the largest fundraiser in the nonprofit’s history. 

Lakeshore Habitat has partnered with Jubilee Ministries on Vista Green, as it is being called. 

Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity and Jubilee Ministries are teaming up on a 42-home mixed-income neighborhood.
The Habitat portion of the affordable housing neighborhood at 285 W. 36th St. will cost a total of $3.9 million and will rely also on money from a Tax Increment Financing Brownfield grant, federal home loan grants, and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, Development Director Dave Rozman says.

An anonymous donor has offered a $150,000 match for gifts made to the campaign through the end of the year. Donors can support the campaign by visiting building-community.org or by stopping by Lakeshore Habitat (12727 Riley St.) to donate. 

Need

The neighborhood will be mixed income with 18 Habitat homes and 24 Jubilee townhomes. The eight-acre property will also include common green space. The Habitat homes will go to families who make 30% to 80% of the median area income while most of Jubilee Ministries clients make 80% to 120% of the median area income. 

The average Habitat for Humanity mortgage is $500 a month, almost a third the cost of the average $1,245 rent in Ottawa County.

According to Habitat for Humanity, 9,785 renters and 12,954 homeowners in the Holland area are paying 30% or more of their income for housing costs, a threshold past which it is difficult to meet other expenses. 

Chaired by community leaders Bill Badran and Rachael Hutchinson, the “Strengthening Families, Building Community” campaign was launched at the beginning of the year.

“You can see the trend in our community. More and more people are concerned that Holland’s housing market is outpricing some families’ ability to afford a home and Habitat is helping to lead the charge in changing that.” says Badran.

Between 2009 and 2015, home prices increased 54% in the city of Holland, 44% in Ottawa County, and 46% in Allegan County. The median rental rate in the Holland area increased 30%, according to statistics compiled by Good Samaritan Ministries. Meanwhile, median wages increased 4.04%.

Neighborhood model

Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity has built more than 150 individual homes integrated into existing neighborhoods, one at a time, in its 31-year history. However, the affordable housing crisis means they need to do more, quicker, Rozman says.

New housing construction rates are not keeping up with need, and increasing building costs are among the reasons most houses are out of range for low to moderate income families, he says, and gentrification is pricing out some families.

Existing home inventory does not meet the need in the city of Holland. The city needs 124 more entry-level homes (for those with incomes from $40,000-$70,000) and 247 mid-level homes (for those with incomes from $40,000-$70,000), according to Habitat for Humanity data.

The partnership with Jubilee will create a mixed-income neighborhood with homes that are thoughtfully designed to look like any other neighborhood, he says.

Stressed workers have greater rates of absenteeism, lower productivity and lead to an unstable workforce, according to Habitat for Humanity. That stress also leads to increased burdens on educational systems and educators. Children of homeowners are more likely to graduate high school and college.

Vista Green will meet that need for a stable home for 42 families and is the second neighborhood the two nonprofits have partnered on.

Lakeshore Habitat and Jubilee's first project was Park Vista Place, a ten-unit pocket neighborhood at 60 E. 40th St. Lakeshore Habitat has completed three of their five homes at Park Vista Place with two more scheduled to be completed in the spring. Jubilee Ministries is using five modular homes for that neighborhood that will also be complete in Spring 2022.

The higher rate of home construction means Habitat for Humanity will also need more volunteers to help with those builds. To volunteer, visit lakeshorehabitat.org/sign-up.

Read more articles by Andrea Goodell.