Tag: renting in grand rapids

Let’s Talk History: Real Problems With Race Inequality In Grand Rapids Real Estate

Red Lining, Gentrification & Gerrymandering Shaping Grand Rapids

The Civil Rights movement happened, thank goodness…according to text books and laws in the 1960’s. But it’s very clear that the civil rights movement needs to continue moving.

It’s a red tape war, for the most part, at this point. And it’s the laziest most subtle offensive actions taken through employees of institutions. Red lining was a term coined in the 60’s by a community activist named John McKnight.

McKnight was looking back from the 60’s into the pits of the 1930’s when,

“The government-sponsored Home redliningOwner’s Loan Corporation first drafted maps of American communities to sort through which ones were worthy of mortgage lending. Neighborhoods were ranked and color-coded, and the D-rated ones — shunned for their “inharmonious” racial groups — were typically outlined in red,” wrote Emily Bagar for the Washington Post in her article Redling: Still A Thing. 

 

Redlining is “the practice of denying services, either directly or through selectively raising prices, to residents of certain areas based on the racial or ethnic makeups of those areas.”

As in, those red areas were CREATED on purpose by the MEDIA, GOVERNMENT and FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS. I’m burning red.

Rightfully, people got really angry about these practices that put them at a great, a greater and greater disadvantage. Boiling up in 1967, there was a (a lot of) race riot(s) in Grand Rapids. The spark that time: white officers pulling over black youth in their car and accusing them of stealing it, and eye witnesses say they used excessive force. Is any force necessary?

The news the next day called the youth a “S. Divison Gang” and don’t mention that part, see grievance of first intensity #1 below. An editorial says, “There must be no compromising with the forces of disorder.”

Nearly 50 Years Later…Let Us Name The Force Of Disorder (Systematic Oppression) Appropriately.redlining

That spark started a wildfire…when over 320 arrests were made in 1967 in a 2 day period…July 25th-July 27th 1967…imagine how many families that affected…The news talked about the lack of male role models as the reason for the “inharmonious” youth…sound familiar?…to the 1930’s…to today? School-to-Prison-Pipeline, everyone.

In a block between 131, Wealthy, Lafayette and Hall…still a predominately black residential area…people spoke up for their rights; as known as a riot. Were they heard? Can we hear them, please?

The Kerner Report listed their grievances, an excerpt saying, “Our Nation Is Moving Toward Two Societies, One Black, One White—Separate and Unequal” Read more details here…And here are the grievances.

Critical thinking caps on…Could that be a viable grievance today?


  • First Level of Intensity:

1. Police practices

2. Unemployment and underemployment

3. Inadequate housing

  • Second Level of Intensity:

1. Inadequate education

2. Poor recreational facilities and programs

3. Ineffectiveness of the political structure and grievance mechanisms

  • Third Level of Intensity:

1. Disrespectful white attitudes

2. Discriminatory administration of justice

3. Inadequacy of federal programs

4. Inadequacy of municipal services

5. Discriminatory consumer and credit practices

6. Inadequate welfare programs


Grievances Heard..The Fair Housing Act of 1968…But Not Solved…Progress Is Slow

And Steady. It basically made Red Lining illegal. Read about the Fair Housing Act of 1968 here…

Todd Robinson wrote this book called A City Within A City, which explains a portion of this history in Grand Rapids much better than summarized here.

Jeff Smith, writting for the GRID (Grand Rapids Institute For Information Democracy, said, “The sophistication of Managerial Racism in Grand Rapids allowed those in power to take action that was presented as racial reconciliation, but was just another way on maintaining the White Supremacist power structure.”

Today Managerial Racism, Red Tape Barriers To Opportunity, in Grand Rapids Is Alive and Well…

I’m seeing red. 

Green light: Click Here For FAIR Assistance In Getting Home, Sweet Home. 

Let’s Talk Specifics: Real Problems With Race Inequality In Grand Rapids Real Estate

Redlining…that old fashioned sounding thing that is still happening…hopefully due to the lag of new ideas replacing old habits…It’s not OVERT racism: saying out loud that one person is better than another because of the color of their skin. It’s COVERT racism: you say out loud that everyone matters, but behind the scenes you do things to treat a person of color as less than, or you take actions to bolster white privilege.


Need to catch up: Read Let’s Talk History: Real Problems with Race Inequality In Grand Rapids Real Estate here. 


Rewind to The Housing Crisis in 2008…

What role did race play? Hypothesis: the wealth disparity correlates to race, with minorities making less…and lower income households were the first to face foreclosure, and suffer from lower home prices?

Let’s paint the picture:redlining

Housing bubble- pop! Pop Quiz: Mortgages

Decline in home prices + high household debt (MBS + CDO) people selling for less than they owe = subprime mortgage crisis (higher interest rates – lower credit or capacity to pay = default)

In our local news the Rapidian in an article called Seeing Red…”loans made to African-Americans were down by 65.9% while loans to whites were only down by 21.4% in the city.” That’s inequality.

How does that happen?!

Once Again, It’s Called Redlining. Here Is HOW It Is Done…Here Is a 2016 Example:

Art-Aldrich_332x332Meet Arthur (Art) Aldrich is a Mortgage Lender with Chemical Bank.

His bio says…”common sense approach to lending…

I am experienced in all conforming and portfolio products.”

You know what has been “common sense” in the last century? Keeping minorities in minority neighborhoods…lending to whites and not as much to minorities. See percentages above. Or go drive around Grand Rapids.

With experience it would be possible to stay within legal bounds but still accomplish a goal of covert discrimination. Mr. Aldrich had a young lady come to him with a mortgage package. She’s mixed – with mixed parents, and from Grand Rapids. She’s working full time at a job that pays 30,000-40,000 per year. She qualifies for a 100,000 mortgage. She won a bid on a house for 85,000…AND she wasn’t the highest bidder…but her realtor wrote a letter explaining this woman’s line of work, how hard she works, how she has a daughter she’s raising with full custody.

Mr. Aldrich wasn’t the first loan officer to look at her application and let it sit…and sit…and sit…on his desk. The last guy realized really late in the game that his bank couldn’t take the grant she had for her down payment…that’s why things were taking so long…Because she was not able to save thousands of dollars due to lower income, so she qualified for a grant…yet the grant barred her from service.

Keeping the down, down. Sound familiar? We feel your pain, woman.

So – Art says, “Sure..” We deal with that grant’s red tape…and then he Redlined her. He did not touch her application while telling her he was…while his superiors had been contacted by the realtor…assuring her the same…still…throwing a closing day further into the future…near 60 days…

This woman, business professional, calm-cool-collected walks in, “I’ve been displaced from my home, and my car broke down. It’s totaled because of the cost of parts, so I am trying to look into a car loan and I cannot get one because this mortgage is still in process… where is it at in the process? Can I talk to someone?” And the tellers say, “…are busy. You’ll have to come back later.” She can make eye-contact with Mr. Aldrich. He can hear her. He ignores her. art aldrich

Mr. Aldrich did nothing. And that is his crime, and that’s why it’s hard to pin him for “nothing” and probably why it keeps happening! It’s easy.

Her story has a happy ending…she switched banks, who are aware of these impropr, subtle, yet cruel business practices – awareness – acknolwedgement – compassion –

She got her paperwork back from the third bank in a mere two weeks, and the seller’s also aware – and compassionate waited. 

Sometimes redlining of this sort works because of competition – someone else gets there first, first come first served.

The first will be last…I’ve heard somewhere…

Here’s News Though, Even If You Have The Best Intentions…You Can Still Be Guilty of Redlining 

Art Aldrich could be the most stand up white male, grandfather, tithes a lot…loves black people..but, Art Aldrich’s intentions do NOT matter, his beliefs do NOT matter…his (non-action) actions matter. He is guilty of managerial racism…even if somehow you “didn’t know” the woman’s race…she is what she is and it is what it is for that reason. That’s not right.

Click Here Fill Out This Form, and Get a Call From a Person Who Is Aware of The Effects of Race and History and The Compounding Domino Effects of Being Lower-Income…Oh, And They Will Still Help You Even If You Are Wealthy and White. That’s Equality.

Driving Demand for Home Building in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Those surviving on low-income are driving the demand for home building in Grand Rapids, but indirectly. The MSHDA, Michigan State Housing Development Authority, comes in to give the businesses looking to expand a push in the right direction. Through a LIHTC, Low-Income Housing Tax Credit towards the property tax a business can make serving the demand profitable.

It’s not that Michiganders Are Lazy…

Low-income driving the demand for more, more-affordable, homes isn’t because too many people are sitting at home on their comfortable couch. Just in March 2016 the employment rate in Michigan dropped to a 4.8. That’s .2 below the National Average. That feels nice, but ‘averages’ when speaking to individuals sit with Diddy and Squat.  There’s Diddily, Squat and Average sitting on a couch..where is Tall? He’s working with you!

Meet the MSHDA:

There’s a movement around Grand Rapids to renovate old, unused spaces and create livable space. That’s a utopian dream, right. And it just so happens, there’s a high demand for low-income housing and there’s a benefit to the economy is people can live with expendable incomes. The MSHDA works on behalf of people earning too low an income to keep up, whether this is through single parent homes, disability, back-to-school (temporarily-under-employed) situation, temporary unemployment. Individually, Going the Mortgage route is one way. The MSHDA has stakes in another. Click here to read more about MSHDA. 

Meet the LIHTC:Money-Cycle-290x300

The fact that there is such a thing as market-rate rent and affordable rent is a sign, is it not? There’s a division in the market and the upper class has the money so claims the market-rent and the rest of the market can be subsidized somehow through government programs and legislation. It’s better than tearing down all the old buildings and putting up new, for only the wealthy-enough… actually even that will help. Those property taxes flow in and are turned into tax credits for OTHER businesses that will house at a rent-restricted rate. The symbiotic being of the government, business and people… amazing.

Places like Rockford Construction will come drive the Fulton stretch, Leonard St… and see an open space and throw up a new apartment complex…like the dozy going up across from adobe by GVSU and charge market-rate rent. Yeah these buildings will make it nicer, and then someone like Karl Chew with Brookstone Capital, LLC of Midland will come in and use the LIHTC to renovate an old building and have a 50-50 market-rate rent and affordable rent. Click here to learn more…

Click here to forget all that and buy a home…

 

2 Reasons Why Grand Rapids, MI, Needs the LIHTC for Affordable Housing

Wealth isn’t distributed based on how hard you work, not even in the glorious Grand Rapids. If it were a hard-working lower-class citizen would make the same as the hard-working upper-class. And it would be the working-class and the lazy-class.

Laissez-Faire Is Not Lazy-Free: It’s Free Market

Laizzez-Faire is said today by businessmen wanting government subsidies and incentives out of the picture entirely. It was originally used by Physiocrats in the eighteenth-century France, who believed that self-interest meant people would act in the direction of the common-good. Let’s see how that plays out…

affordable housing

“Hi, builder. Could you accept less every month than you COULD so that other less healthy parts of the economy can heal and thrive?”

“No, I’ll use my self-interest to maximize my profit.”

Yes, People have the right to their self-interested business decisions. All people have a right-to-life and life looks like food-shelter-water. I repeat, SHELTER. So protecting low-income people is vital to a healthy community. A sort of boomer-rang in the plan is needed to redirect self-interest towards the interest of other-selves. It’s called learning to share.

The LIHTC, Low-Income Housing Tax Credit plays the role of an invisible-hand of the free-market when income disparity causes the rich to serve the rich and the poor get displaced. Instead of putting money right into the real hands of the lower-rung, the LIHTC is an incentive for a builder to serve a lower-income need: cheaper than market-rate rent; affordable rent. For this promise a business will not pay as much in property taxes, and a penny saved is a penny earned – for everybody.

LIHTC #1 Drives the Market For Builders, #2 Creates a Space For Individuals or Families With Low-Income To Rent

So LIHTC does 2 things. It drives the market. It connects builder to renter. It lets the market be free and do it’s own thing but it also protects affordable options. Click here to Read more about how the LIHTC accomplishes this here.

Without the LIHTC, imagine this ask, “Hi, builder. Could you accept less every month than you COULD so that other less healthy parts of the economy can heal and thrive?”

“No, I’ll use my self-interest to maximize my profit.”

Yes, People have the right to their self-interested business decisions. All people have a right-to-life and life looks like food-shelter-water. I repeat, SHELTER. So protecting low-income people is vital to a healthy community. A sort of boomer-rang in the plan is needed to redirect self-interest towards the interest of other-selves. It’s called learning to share.

 

If Affirmative Action is an example of an invisible hand within the job market, then the LIHTC is an invisible hand in the real estate market, specifically for renting. Click here to Read more here.

Local Grand Rapidians made GR a Grand Place to Belong…

Great, unless…GR fills with outsiders with more money and the market-rate rent within downtown would increase with increased competition, and then the areas surrounding downtown rent would increase, outward and so on. As these areas fill with wealth, suburban areas swell in the opposite direction with refugee-like environments.Social_Network_Diagram_(segment).svg

This trickle down effect isn’t healthy for a community: it’s divisive. Clearly it can cause resentment and a whole slew of cultural problems, including gangs and violence. Of course, given it’s course, it would eventually flip back over. The cool is still cool and the money would still follow it around.

Instead of all that…we can have places like 20 East Fulton. 54 affordable renting people living next to people able to pay market-value prices. Read more here…

There’s the wealthy building-owners and the building-renters. There’s wealthy renters and not-wealthy renters. The LIHTC works to bridge the gap.

If you need help bridging your gap to affordable housing CLICK HERE.

What the MSHDA Is Doing for Real Estate Projects in West Michigan

We can say the housing market looks great but until the people who need houses have houses it’s not a great market for the market, the people. The method of calculation for a market-rate house is unclear. It appears clear to a family when affordable isn’t. The demand for affordable housing remains high all over Michigan, says the MSHDA.

Michigan State Housing Development Authority, Go Green?

Lots of things “Go Green Can mean these days.” Is there a Michigan State University affiliation?  No; they are located in Lansing but not East Lansing. This is a .gov deal. There is also a Detroit office. We see why. Don’t worry West Michigan, they still service our area.

The grass is greener? The Greens? Dollar, Dollar bills you all! Yes, maybe. The MSHDA takes in money from the federal government at a rate of about $1.75 (more recently it’s been legislated that this will increase automatically with inflation) per resident of the state, sometimes more…read here… That green sea of money is a pool that has many uses. Builders can apply for credit off their property taxes.

This West Michigan Real Estate Property is Benefiting: 20 East Fulton. Job creation in West Michigan happens when Builders can fund large projects. Without a strong employment market, there cannot be a strong real estate market. Hopetoown agrees. 

Environmentally speaking would be a really interesting twist to the command, “Go Green” Now! You better make LEAD certified buildings for the people of low-income to thrive in. THRIVE NOT SURVIVE! THRIVE NOT SURVIVE. Oh, pardon me, this writer turned into a picketer for a moment. MSHDA (sang to the tune of YMCA)!  Actually there is a “green initiative” with MSHDA; good job! The division with green initiatives has a description

“The purpose of Downtown & Community Services is to support the creation, preservation and sustainability of vibrant communities through technical assistance.”

This is a good way to word the benefit West Michigan feels from MSHDA, with it’s many different divisions.

One is section 8. Maybe you’ve heard of it, a voucher Program as rental assistance which is one solution to homelessness. The HOPE Program has solutions, too. This article might be of interest to the section 8 residents out there. 

Supporting the Creation and Preservation with Sustainability by the LIHTC is ONE MAJOR way MSHDA supports West Michigan, and beyond. But not to infinity. Only Michigan. Read more about LIHTC here.MSHDA

MSHDA Creates Incentive For Builders to House Forgotten Portions of The Market!

Are you feeling forgotten?  You can use MSHDA to find a place to rent. 

You can connect to a network of housing help here. 

Bridging the Gap Between Buyers and Builders in Grand Rapids, MI

If you are from the U.P. you call those residents under the bridge trolls.  If you are from Grand Rapids you know we don’t have real rapids, and we aren’t really trolls.  We have lots of bridges though: 6th street bridge, Gillette Bridge, the (rainbow) Blue Bridge, Fulton Street and the old railroad bridge with Punk Island, and maybe Gerald Ford’s S-Curve conglomeration counts?

There are lots of people considering the metaphorical bridges of Grand Rapids as well.  The Rapidian posted this article of one such group, the ADAPT theater company. Overall, the Grand Rapids landscape is broken into neighborhoods:

  • East Grand Rapids15551693870_6382dd2bc4_b
  • Easttown
  • Southtown
  • Cherry Hill
  • Heritage Hill
  • Southside
  • Heartside
  • Blackhills
  • Downtown
  • Westside
  • Fulton Heights
  • North side, etc.

Unfortunately and/or logically, the verdict is up to you on which, the neighborhood also correlates to race, a people-scape? This is highlighted by ADAPT in a play that performed in April 2016 at the Wealthy Street Theater called Lines: The Lived Experience of Race in Grand Rapids.  The play touched on many areas of life: religion, business, education but especially housing.

As a place grows in culture (shared ideas) and cultural diversity (different ethic groups) you are like a magnet for more culture and more immigration.  If you hit the 100,000 population the land becomes a city, and if you are in the city of Grand Rapids you have 188,040 as of the 2010 census.  Like every growing human endevour there are growing pains.  There is a tension between the newcomers and the ‘indigenous’ people. Familiar story right? There’s an awareness, an optimism in Grand Rapids that we don’t want to repeat the results of this historical story: The people with more money win and the indigenous people go on their new trail of tears.

Building Local Is The Next ‘Buy Local’

It would be pretty awesome if the new builders are the original homesteaders and outsiders came to their palace to enjoy the synecdoche (one part/you standing for the whole/Grand Rapids). Instead what we have is locals doing their small part to make Grand Rapids a great place on the whole and then outside investors want to come in and build new places for? Who? More outsiders?  This is Okay.  It’s not Grand Rapidian vs. everyone else. But what about the lower income population that did their part in giving Grand Rapids the reputation it has for that Big Wig’s profit?  There’s a gap.

South Division is a cool example, with a cool solution. The legend goes…Some low-income housing, especially for individuals with mental illness, was shut down in the late 1980’s. A big business moved in. The people had to go somewhere. The street Division in Heartside became the popular place.  Around the same time the LIHTC, Low-Income-Housing-Tax-Credit, became an option to give builders an incentive to keep part of their new buildings for a population who otherwise would be displaced.  The LIHTC helped a big business build in Heartside. Heartside grew and housed people, bridging that gap. The outside investors helps with urban decay, and the resident population is integrated into a thriving cultural life, with things like The Avenue and the Dwelling Place . Well, that’s the ideal.  Read more about LIHTC here.

Is a tax credit for investor the best way to ensure people with low-income don’t loose their place? No probably not. The builder can come in and promise that for 18 years 40ish% of his building will be stable affordable rent for those on disability, and get 9ish% of the project cost paid for the federal government.  That seems like a very convoluted way to help the poor…helping the rich get richer. Of course, the builder would be richer if it were 100% market-rate rent they were charging for 100% of a building. Does LIHTC help or hurt the Grand Rapids real estate market? Click here to read more. 

It definitely does something. The money from LIHTC, the $1.75 (adjusted for inflation)/resident, might be better spent donated to something like The Well House.

Click here…This can do something for you if you are in the real estate market. 

What the 20 East Fulton Project Will Do for Families in Grand Rapids, MI

Brookstone Capital, a Midland-based LLC, is building a new multi-use space on Fulton, right across from the Children’s Museum.   Mr. Karl Chew, president of Brookstone, is no one to scoff at around town if you are looking for a rental.Since 2006 Brookstone has built 300 rental units in Grand Rapids. This project at $37million is set to be their largest yet.

Brookstone Capital LLC, Your Next Landlord?

$3million of that budget is footed by tax payers through the Low-Income-Housing-Tax-Credit.  No, not because Karl Chew is low-income.  Mr. Chew gets the tax break because impressively 50% of the apartments will be designated for low-income families/individuals. That’s 54 affordable units and 54 market-rate.  40% of the units is typical for approval of the LIHTC. Good Job, Mr. Chew, working the system.

All people, but especially families in Grand Rapids can benefit indirectly from this development because of the prime location of this building. Broken window theory says that urban decay, empty or vandalized buildings, correlates to serious crime in that neighborhood. No, the empty building does not make crime happen. Yes, the shiny new 20 East Fulton could prevent crime from happening. If something looks nice, people are more likely to treat it nice. If something looks messy, people are less likely to take care of it.  Karl Chew is all over Grand Rapids making unused spaces livable ones.6961230324_1b0d85eb32_b

Back in the day, there were three major department stores in Grand Rapids, not on Alpine or 28th Street but right downtown.

Mr. Chew’s might be the next department store of GR at 20 East Fulton on the lower level in the 10,000 feet of retail space. No, just kidding. But something new will be there.

Looks like Rick Devos’s Artprize scheme is working! This savvy business man uses art as the medium for community, yes, that’s natural, and the American Idol model, yes, that’s capitalist, to create hype for his hometown. He wanted to give a kickstart to the economy and transform the downtown area; re-imagine a whole new thing in the ghostly buildings of the prior GR glory.

Devos can have Chew’s tennants as neighbors right across division to his big state-of-the-arts building. The new-er UICA, Urban Institute of Contemporary Art, is a similar muti-use space. At the tippy-top is an outdoor fireplace and patio for the GR elite. 20 East Fulton might have the same glitzy vibe, we’ll see, but it can boast that it’s 50/50 market-value (glitzy) and affordable (gritty).

At some point in the future, maybe someone can site this article for how past humans of GR handled gaps in income. They will write a sparkling article about how 20 East Fulton is now (then) 100% affordable housing for 100% of families. Until that day…here’s Mr. Chew helping families in GR by renovating eye sores for people to rent, encouraging the government to offer incentives to businesses that protect the marginalized, making ArtPrize look even nicer, creating some needed parking and downtown retail space in a centralized location – ultimately making Grand Rapids safer and happier.

Click here if you need housing to a part of this glitzy and gritty grand city.