Housing needs to be prioritized for all people

Local people like Jill Oosterbaan need options.
Mar 21, 2014

The Tri-Cities native grew up with severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, graduated from college with a degree in elementary/special education, and now lives at home with her parents while awaiting the day when independent housing becomes available to her.

She’s impatiently patient, with good reason. Every time she explores a new housing option – and there are few for people in her situation – she’s either put on a years-long waiting list or told it’s not appropriate for her. She’s in a wheelchair and has a service dog, and both of these things make it doubly difficult to find the right fit.

But the core of her quandary is the fact that there’s a severe lack of affordable housing locally.

Nearly a tenth of our county population is disabled, and 1,500 of those are individuals who need assistance with daily living and mobility. But there are only 1,000 subsidized housing units in Ottawa County, and half of those are allocated toward senior citizens.

Six times as many housing units are needed.

This leaves just a few options for Oosterbaan, and those often come with five-year waiting lists. What’s remarkably sad is that Oosterbaan is just one of many in our community who are left without options, without the ability to live independently.

She is seeking to connect with other adults with physical disabilities to network and look toward solutions. E-mail her at housinghopes@gmail.com.

The Lakeshore Housing Alliance is also taking up the torch for improved affordable housing options by facilitating the Affordable Housing Task Force. For information on this group, visit lakeshorehousingalliance.org.

Ultimately, though, to improve this situation the entire community needs to come together to brainstorm and implement solutions.

Our Lakeshore neighbors are generous, and this is a great need in our community. These are people who work hard every day to move forward, and sometimes they need a gentle helping hand and a lift up.

Let’s give Oosterbaan and others that lift.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.



For the people with disability's and the seniors, i am 64 and in need for affordable housing, called a few places, they also said there are long waiting lists, but maybe you have not noticed, this town is being turned in to a tourist town, not for the local residents and they are now looking to other towns with cheaper housing, to me, that's not fair because i was born and raised here, now being pushed out, but have been reading, if you did not put away for your retirement, its your fault, not true entirely.


This is 2014. These issues should be over with. We have computers, we have industrial robots, safe cars. As far as "networking for solutions" people are just going to have to slam their fists down and say enough is enough with all this mindless bureaucratic nonsense at every government office. For starters a solution would be to flat out across the board ballot proposal to exempt all the above affected people from property taxes. Property taxes are $250 a month for an average home in this county. And when a person is "disabled" they can taxed out of their residences by being one day late on lousy paperwork. That is outrageous!! And next is hold congressman accountable. Those SSI and medicaid rules are mind numbing stupid rediculas!! All that paperwork is stupid and rediculas. Next time Huizenga comes around ya better let him know it. Same with Amanda Price.


Hmmmmm, do not be late on paperwork. Why is paperwork stupid? I had no problem filling out pages and pages of paperwork when applying for my disability. I shut the heck up, followed the procedures, was NOT late in turning them in and I receive a monthly check conveniently deposited in to my checking account and my enormous medical bills are 80% paid! (I also carry additional ins that pays the. 20% - oh, I filled out the paperwork for that as well). When one is disabled you have tons of time for paperwork and phone calls. I thank Pres Johnson for Medicare and the Government for my monthly check. I worked hard, paid for it in taxes and now I need it. I'll do the paperwork for housing or anything else that makes my life easier. It keeps me off the street and from being homeless.


Most people are uneducated as to what the disabled and elderly go through, including myself. It is so unfortunate that people don't care until it involves them or their loved ones. I applaud you for becoming louder on this issue. I think it is especially bad it the Tri-cities area. There is a definite housing shortage here and an abundance of tourist rentals. Tourists rentals have taken over the downtown area. What is left is overpriced and put of reach for most. I don't know the answer to this issue, but I am aware of the problem and was glad to see it addressed (as much as the Tribune addresses anything).


I understand the downtown rentals are expensive and reserved for tourists. There are a lot of locals that would love to live downtown but due to pricing are excluded from those areas ......not just the disabled. It is the tourists that keep Grand Haven businesses going. Thank you for them.

I am on disability and had no problem moving in to a nice first floor apartment at Timberview Apts. with no waiting and reasonably priced. There were also duplexes and another apartment complex that we're accommodating when I was apartment hunting. NONE had a waiting list. I do not get it?

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