Small homes create big opportunity for SE GR residents

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A new, small home will hit the market in southeast Grand Rapids in the next week and people who live nearby already have the opportunity to put in their offers. That’s by design, meant to help people who can’t imagine they could afford a brand new home realize the dream.

“For those who want to own, rather than rent, this is a good opportunity to get into a brand new energy-efficient, smaller, smarter home,” Bill Papke explained.

He and his wife Miriam Papke have worked together on building two new homes in the 49507 zip code. They are smaller than 1,000 square feet, less than $160,000 and built to last with an energy-efficient design.

Ron Jimmerson of Seeds of Promise in Grand Rapids worked with the Papkes on the project, letting them know about vacant lots in the city. He has a vested interest making those lots into something for the future. The Seeds of Promise organization is focused on helping people overcome systemic racism that has kept people of color from accumulating wealth, among other things. Home ownership is a big piece of that puzzle.

The first home that the Papkes sold as part of their pilot project is on Crawford Street. It’s a three-bedroom, one-bathroom cottage-style home with energy-efficient appliances. They opened it up to offers from people who live in the area first and though there was interest, they didn’t get any local offers.

They ended up selling to a young, single man who is moving to Grand Rapids from the east side of the state after accepting a cybersecurity job with Spartan Nash. Eddie White said he never imagined he could own a brand new home.

“Especially that this is new construction, I never even considered something like that within my price range,” White said.

The second home, which is open for local offers now, is at 825 Alexander St. SE in Grand Rapids and is slightly smaller and $10,000 less expensive than the Crawford Street home.

The Papkes hope more locals will check it out and potentially buy it as more people learn about their efforts.

“A lot of people have grown up in this area and they’ve lived in the neighborhoods,” Miriam Papke said. “They love the neighborhoods, they know the people in the communities and there are vacant lots, so let’s put families on those lots.”

They hope to buy more vacant lots soon so they can continue the project after finding quick success with the first two homes.

There is federal money available to help with down payments for first-time homebuyers. You can check with Seeds of Promise to find out how to apply through the organization.

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