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Housing Next Leadership Council formed

• Sep 1, 2017 at 10:00 AM

A new Leadership Council has formed to focus on workforce housing solutions in Ottawa County.

The council, composed of the area’s top community and business development organizations, will work to ensure housing is available for all area workers.

Mike Goorhouse, president of the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area, and Holly Johnson, president of the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, will serve as co-chairs of the newly formed Housing Next Leadership Council.

The council also will include representatives from the West Coast Chamber, Chamber of Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Ferrysburg, United Way of Ottawa and Allegan Counties, Ottawa County, Lakeshore Advantage and Community SPOKE.

“Affordable housing was already a big problem in our community and it is getting bigger,” Goorhouse said. “Recent estimates of the shortage have grown to between 12,000 and 15,000 units. Local businesses, government and nonprofit organizations are all seeing the lack of affordable housing creating tremendous difficulty in many families’ day to day lives and constraining our overall ability to grow and thrive as a community.”

The Housing Next Leadership Council was formed due to the extensive housing research effort lead by the United Way’s Ottawa Housing Next. The first order of business will be to hire a director fully focused on workforce housing solutions. The Council plans to have its new director in place by the end of 2017.

“Lack of affordable housing is both a social and an economic issue, and will require government, business and nonprofits all working together to make significant progress towards a solution,” Johnson said. “I can’t remember a time when these eight organizations have collaborated so closely to address a key community priority.”

In addition to the Leadership Council, there will be a broader advisory board which will have representation from developers, businesses, philanthropy, housing nonprofits, government and residents.

Housing Next has identified four strategies to help the community better access market-driven solutions:

— Matching private and nonprofit developers’ interests with local housing needs.

— Working with local governments to clarify their vision for the types of affordable housing developments they desire for their communities and establishing the regulatory environment that will allow those developments to occur.

— Assisting developers in accessing public and philanthropic resources to fill financial gaps that might prevent projects from moving forward.

— Connecting new developments with local nonprofit partners to ensure critical services and supports are available for future residents.

In addition to Johnson and Goorhouse, other members of the newly formed Leadership Council include: Patrick Cisler, executive director of Community SPOKE; Jane Clark, president of the Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce; Joy Gaasch, president of the Chamber of Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Ferrysburg; Patrick Moran, president of United Way of Ottawa and Allegan Counties; Jennifer Owens, president of Lakeshore Advantage; and Al Vanderberg, Ottawa County administrator.

Lyn Raymond, director of the Lakeshore Housing Alliance, will serve as liaison from the Leadership Council to the broader advisory panel.

“United Way is pleased to transition the leadership on this effort to this Leadership Council, while still keeping all the important members of Ottawa Housing Next informed and engaged,” Moran said. “This cross sector council is the right group at the right time to increase market driven housing solutions.”

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