Affordable housing policies debated at Grand Rapids City Commission meeting

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- The Grand Rapids City Commission on Tuesday discussed changes in the city that would increase the availability of affordable housing.

It's on issue the commission says they've been working on since 2015, but some residents are upset with how the commission trying to accomplish its goals. The Housing Now project started with 11 different goals aimed at increasing the amount of affordable housing in the city.

Four of those recommendations have already been approved, including lower tax rates for owners of low-income housing, home ownership incentives, and having the city buy property for affordable housing.

At Tuesday's meeting, officials went over amendments to several other recommendations.  One would create incentives to build duplexes or multi-unit homes by changing zoning. Another was a density bonus for developers, which means developers would dedicate a certain percentage of units as affordable housing when they create projects containing at least 20 units.

Officials also discussed allowing accessory dwelling units by right, meaning home owners can add residential spaces to their primary residence whenever they want.

The final recommendation discussed Tuesday would make changes to policies regarding non-condo zero lot line units, or housing units attached to each other in a row.  The changes would encourage more of this kind of development.

The public comment period of Tuesday's meeting was dominated by residents who are upset with what the recommendations could mean for their own homes, with issues like decreased property values, competition for on-street parking and giving power to developers with no connection to Grand Rapids.

No decisions on the new amendments were made at the meeting.

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