Housing solutions sought

The Grand Haven-area housing system needs to change. That’s what the keynote speaker at a meeting of the Northwest Ottawa Area Housing Coalition drilled home.
Tribune Staff
Jan 9, 2013


“I really care about our community, and I want to say that upfront so you guys understand my heart,” Justin Arnold said. “But, at the same time, there are a lot of problems with it that we just don’t pay attention to."

The local housing coalition hosted its first “Lunch and Learn” on Tuesday at St. Patrick's Catholic Church. Eighteen people representing several area companies and organizations attended the event.

As the keynote speaker, Arnold called for the coalition to take a new direction.

“We have this idea that we are something that we are no longer,” he said. “If we keep doing the same things that we’re doing, we are going to fail, we are going to fall apart.”

Arnold shared a personal story of financial trouble while living in the Grand Haven area. He said he understood poverty because he experienced it firsthand.

People need education to rise above poverty, Arnold said.

“They don’t need one more frozen chicken, they don’t need one more box of macaroni, and they don’t need one more love seat,” he said. “They need an associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree and an education that will get them a job so they can earn a living wage.”

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

— By Emily Anderson, Tribune intern



It is important that our local papers, like the Grand Haven Tribune, keep us informed of actions by small but well-situated minorities, including those who are members of local government, that could have a deleterious effect on our community.

In that regard, I wish to thank Emily Henderson and the Tribune for telling us what Justin Arnold would do to our city if he had his way. Notwithstanding the fact that generations have stayed here because they like the community of Grand Haven as it is, and notwithstanding that many others, including my wife and I, have moved to Grand Haven because we like it the way it is, and to escape areas that have changed for the worse due to the ministrations of activists and politicians who know better than the rest of us, Justin Arnold tells us that: “We have this idea that we are something that we are no longer,” he said. “If we keep doing the same things that we’re doing, we are going to fail, we are going to fall apart.” >p>

So who is this city maven? A simple Google search tells me that Mr. Arnold is, in the words of his profile at LinkedIn, a Strategic Thinker, Leadership Expert, Growth Driver, Corporate Trainer, Region Builder. According to his website he is also a “Kingmaker.” Cue http://www.hark.com/clips/mhsfrz... And what is his sage advice regarding our terrible housing problem in Grand Haven (in the words of Char Seise, our housing “crisis”)?

(1) Look at the big picture; (2) change your perspective; (3) consider how mental models affect the present and future; (4) recognize that system structure generates its behavior; (5) check results and change things as needed. Heavy, man!

Having seen this stuff elsewhere, my experience is that the Kingmaker and Region Builder's agenda in plain English is: (1) increase housing subsidies to attract more “diversity” into the community – Section 8 housing especially(kcrg.com/news/local/84533907.html ; ( http://www.theatlantic.com/magaz...) (2) subsidize higher education even more, whether people are qualified to go to college or not (and saddle them with huge debt); (3) increase subsidies and opportunities for people who are here illegally; (4) pay everyone a “living wage” (i.e. minimum wage isn't good enough); and (5) pay for all of this by increasing taxes on the wealthy who don't pay their fair share and borrowing against our children's future.

Notice that these activists never attack the communities where the really rich live – Bloomfield Hills, Main Line Philadelphia, Hollywood, Chevy Chase, D.C. - it's only the middle class, low hanging fruit who must make sacrifices. And once these “transformational changes” have been visited on a community, we cannot have a do-over – that toothpaste will not go back in the tube.

Lord, save us from strategic thinkers, leadership experts, growth drivers, trainers, region builders, and kingpins. Let us enjoy our little community, and keep it enjoyable, pleasant, and safe by keeping on doing what we have been doing. I believe most of us can live with the “housing crisis” we now have rather than the crises that have been visited upon other communities who followed the do-gooders in their midst.


Yours is an interesting take on an almost overlooked piece, Vlad. Having lived in such diverse communities as Chicago and the eastern shore of Maryland, we too chose to move here quite a few years ago now, loving the unique charms and livability of the area. Since then, the amount of growth and development in Western Michigan has been phenomenal. Once blithely making a daily 45-minute commute to downtown Chicago, I have to smile when I now complain about the "heavy" traffic on US31 - but the growth inevitably continues along with the subsequent changes to, and needs of, the community.

Since growth doesn't appear to be stopping any time soon, it would seem to me that Justin Arnold's thoughts about the need to address underlying gaps in the system via education, a living wage, and affordable housing are appropriate and timely. A utopian ideal of a community is unsustainable and unrealistic, I suppose. I support your conservative slant (this time!) on the issue, but do believe that how a community meets the needs of all its neighbors reflects on it's health and vitality. Is it possible that a balanced approach in addressing these dynamics can keep our community a peaceable kingdom?


Hey, we almost agree!

We also catch ourselves and laugh when we complain about Route 31 traffic, having endured years of a 1 1/2 hour commute each way to our jobs in Washington, D.C. Eastern Shore – who'da thunk? Fond memories of Ocean City, Rehobeth, Assitigue and the ponies – not so much so of the Bay Bridge.

My only point was that we have to guard against “kingmakers and region builders” who have an agenda that is far removed from the majority of folks who live in a community, and do not appear to have the educational background to lead a movement for change in housing and social policy but are treated as mavens; (the head of a federal agency I once worked for always noted that a consultant is someone who borrows your watch to tell you what time it is). For someone to say we have a “housing crisis” set off all the alarm bells – and the concept of “living wage” is troublesome. Who defines what that is? Certainly not business owners like you, or taxpayers.

I wrote the comment because I have lived through communities being ruined from an un-planned and headlong pursuit of “diversity” “sanctuary city” and non-restrictive zoning by politicians beholden to special interests, from civil rights leaders to developers. Specifically, Columbia, Maryland, Gaithersburg, Maryland, Silver Spring, Maryland, Frederick, Maryland, and the whole of Montgomery County, Maryland. I could also cite Jamaica, New York, Laurelton, New York, Valley Stream, N.Y. I'd just hate to have that happen to Grand Haven just because people are not aware of how easily their community can be forever changed for the worse.


Hey - I'm delighted to say I agree totally with your comments! A special laugh at the story of the consultant, as my husband was one (but had the ed. background) for many years. (And why he quit and bought a business....)

We lived in St. Michaels during the time James Michener was living there, writing "Chesapeake" - we felt so "literary". Loved tubing on the Choptank, sailing/crabbing/avoiding jellyfish on the Chesapeake; the sweetest strawberries ever (great daiquiris on those hot days), the ponies. And also grew to love the Maryland area, traveling to the Civil War sites (CW buffs). We boated down the Inland Waterway - Ocean City, Rehoboth Beach - fantastic fun! And that incredible Bay Bridge - our car broke down once traveling over. Thanks for bringing to mind some great memories - it is really neat to find someone who knows that area - and to think it's Vlad!!

What an interesting thought - who/what does define a housing crisis or a living wage? Another idea to research...


Not a Civil War buff but know a number of CW sites just from proximity - like canoing Antietam Creek. Favorite is still Harper's Ferry and the view from Jefferson's Rock, (before commercialization) - helped a friend clear the land and build a house on the mountain across from Harper's Ferry. As buffs, you should check out a tiny gem called "Gathland State Park" - neat little place in the middle of the history of Crampton's Gap and South Mountain, near the Appalachian Trail and strangely, adjacent to where The Blair Witch Project was filmed (Burkittsville).


As luck would have it, plans are being made for an excursion down to another old favorite haunt (Low Country), and think I could pull off a slight(!) detour to the Gathland State Park, which looks like my cup of tea. Have hiked around Harper's Ferry many times - will go back and pay homage again to John Brown and now to you, for your work in this spectacular place had to be very, very hard.

To reluctantly go back on-topic, I couldn't resist my idea of a community "going to the dogs". Lord, save St Michaels from our failed leaders....http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/3...


1. Lest I be accused of misleading you and your husband based on our political differences, you should know Gathland is very small, although it is near other historical spots; I mentioned it because I thought you might want to look it up on the web if you were not aware of it. Just don't want you to expect something that it is not.

2. Hate to see that St. Michaels has been "discovered", even if the discoverers are the good guys - they had to go somewhere since they would be persona non grata in the Hamptons. At least Smith Island remains!


Oh c'mon - you don't really think I'd blame you and your staunch conservatism for sending us on a wild goose chase and getting lost up in the mountains, do you?......Seriously, there are many good and rational reasons for going back to a favorite place and checking out a previously overlooked recommendation, while we're in the "general" area.

Smith Island! The nostalgia journey is now complete! I laugh at your tactful reference to the "good" guys as being "persona non grata" in the Hamptons. I would have chosen "hostis publicus" myself. I'm waiting for them to vote the US Corp of Army Engineers off the island and privatize it for their duck hunting.

As for housing solutions/crisis, have you read this? Like you, Joe doesn't hold back. If possible, scroll down and read the first several Reader's Picks comments - my thoughts exactly. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/1...


I think it's probably unfair for us to use Tribune online comments to communicate our personal ideas, although it is enjoyable I'll try to refrain in the future.

I think this is the closest I have seen you come to a criticism of Obama. I think we are increasingly becoming an oligarchy made up of swells from the Ivy League and Wall Street, who think, without basis in fact, that they are smarter than the rest of us and need to help their friends who are similarly situated, using taxpayer dollars. I think we were better off with the Trumans, Eisenhowers, and Reagans running our country than the Bushes, Clintons, and Obamas. I think the democrats are more hypocritical because they pretend they are for the little guy and against the super rich, the bankers and hedge fund managers to get elected, and then outdo the Republicans. (See Jacob Lew). http://consortiumnews.com/2012/0... ; https://secure.huffingtonpost.co... . I agree with William F. Buckley:

I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.



The video is chilling. It begs the question - now what? How do you deal with this? So many questions, and no answers. It takes me to a new place, beyond my somewhat cynical perch. Help!

I've never been the Obama Pollyanna I might have appeared to be (apparently I wasn't entirely clear on this). The choice between him and Romney - a one-dimensional Ken-doll of the embodiment of old and new money - was an easy one for me. Obama resonates with me on many levels, but always with the knowledge that he, too, is a lifetime member of the Ivy League/Wall Street Club. How can he or any politician get anywhere without it?

We are of like minds with (most of) your statements. 92% to 28% in marginal tax rates from Eisenhower to Reagan was the impetus that changed nearly everything, unleashing the god Plutus and creating the swell now drowning us. That along with Clinton's lowest point (not Monica), being forced to dissolve the Glass-Steagall act. Not to beat a dead horse, it's all about the money.

The current republicans are beyond hypocrisy; they may be more transparent, but what you see is repellant (to me, fond as I am of Eisenhower and Truman). Obama, as a pragmatic realist who governs to the center, at least makes some attempt to include and look out for the middle class and the poor. I appreciate your profession(s) have provided you with unique perceptions that probably make you choke on your coffee over this statement, but at least he is trying to wade through the muck, and not wallow in it like the republicans. I do have mixed emotions about Jacob Lew, as I have always respected Paul Volcker. (But then I thought the same of Dick Cheney, and look where that went).

I'd forgotten about your Buckley quote - funny how it means more to me now than when I first read it. Do you consider yourself a Buckleyite? I do miss his eccentric blend of conservative intellect, wit, and style (plus he was a sailor). At least we have these guys....http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a...


Well, if it isn't Montagues and the Capulets...A pleasant change of pace...a breath of fresh air...finding common ground and building upon it.


Yeah - it can happen. If you decide to make it happen (like most things, I suppose).


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