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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.