September 16, 2017

What is the Community Homes Initiative?

The ICCF Community Homes Initiative program is focused on renewing and restoring homes to families in our neighborhood, preserving these properties for affordable housing. It began with a purchase of 213 housing units in fall of 2017, something unprecedented in ICCF’s long history. In 2018 we took on 35 more and began renovating and restoring the properties. And we’re not done yet.

248 Affordable Homes

In 2017-2018 we took on what is by far the largest real estate portfolio in our history – 248 homes, previously owned by one out-of-state investment firm managing them to provide above-average return to investors. All of them are now being renewed by ICCF to assure their continued availability and affordability for neighbors with limited incomes.

This is not something ICCF has done on its own. This is a community effort, including strong financial backing and leadership by key local foundations who provided nearly $10 million in private grants and investment. We also were blessed with enthusiastic support from the cities of Grand Rapids and Wyoming, as well as other area nonprofit housing organizations.

The Challenge

Grand Rapids’ housing market is now one of the hottest in the nation. Houses sell quickly and prices keep increasing. The area is thriving and property investors are confident and plentiful. But for those of us who are concerned about housing for neighbors with limited incomes, there is true cause for concern. The dynamics in today’s hot housing market are very different than they were in preceding decades, when urban neighborhoods were too often characterized by disinvestment and discrimination. Today, the chief concern in urban neighborhoods is not disinvestment but displacement caused by rapidly escalating prices and rents. Here are the facts:

  • Between 2011 and 2016, area median income rose 18%
  • Since 2011, the median home price has risen 64%
  • Since 2011, the average rent for a two-person bedroom apartment has increased by 49%
  • Between 2011 and 2016, the percentage of area homes sold for less than $100,000 decreased from 49% to 15%, dropping to 11% in 2017 to date
  • Of the 44,880 community homes in the city of Grand Rapids, 24% are investor-owned

Sources: US Census Bureau ACS, Grand Rapids Association of Realtors, Department of Numbers, Michigan Radio,

The Opportunity

The acquisition of these 248 mostly single-family homes will preserve affordable rental rates and provide new homeownership opportunities for neighbors with limited incomes.

Key goals and objectives for the properties include:

  • Partnering with other local housing nonprofits to assure 50 % of the homes are sold to households with limited incomes within 5-10 years. Through the Community Homes Land Trust, current tenants who desire to purchase their home have the opportunity to do so.
  • Investing $4.5 million to renew the properties with special attention to increasing energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and environmental stability of the homes.
  • Hiring local contractors who are committed to employing residents with limited incomes of the neighborhoods in which the homes are located.
  • Creating green, energy-efficient, Green Star Certified homes through a grant from the Wege Foundation.

By the Numbers

  • 206 total properties
  • 175 single-family homes
  • 31 duplexes & multifamily buildings
  • 248 total housing units: 188 in Grand Rapids and Wyoming, 60 in Lansing and Eaton Rapids
  • $4.5 million anticipated cost of renovations and capital improvements (over 10 years)
    Total number of properties

Get Involved

This significant purchase provides new avenues for collaboration in our community. Please consider how you might get involved:

  • Pray for families and individuals who are experiencing homelessness or whose housing is at risk; for those whose housing is inadequate and who long for a home that fits their family’s needs; for those who feel locked into circumstances which offer them no hope; for ICCF and others who seek to provide affordable options and services to help people cope, grow, and thrive.
  • Learn how we got into this housing crisis and how you can be part of the solution by attending an ICCF Lunch & Learn or through ICCF staff visiting your business or church.
  • Volunteer and help us beautify affordable housing in Grand Rapids! We have weekday and select Saturday volunteer opportunities for volunteer groups, associations, businesses, and churches to help with interior paint, spring cleanup, landscaping, and creating welcome baskets.
  • Provide Goods & Services which are needed on almost all of these homes. If your business or church has skilled tradespeople or supplies that you would like to donate, contact us.
  • Give a secure online gift to help offset dramatically rising rents and home prices for neighbors on the margins.

Many Thanks to Our Partners

  • AmplifyGR
  • Barnabas Foundation
  • CDV5 Foundation
  • Peter C. and Emajean Cook Foundation
  • Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation
  • Doug and Maria DeVos Foundation
  • Frey Foundation
  • Jandernoa Foundation
  • National Christian Foundation West Michigan
  • Steelcase Foundation
  • David and Carol Van Andel Family Foundation
  • W. K. Kellogg Foundation
  • The Wege Foundation

ICCF Community Homes

ICCF Community Homes is the oldest non-profit affordable housing provider in the state of Michigan. Active in the Grand Rapids area since 1974, ICCF serves over 2,000 households a year through its programs and services. Program offerings include Family Haven emergency shelter, over 700 units of affordable rental housing, newly constructed homes for purchase, homeownership education and financial counseling.

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