GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Construction will begin soon on new affordable homes on the northside of Kalamazoo.

Members of the Northside Association for Community Development stood with partners, city and state officials and residents Saturday afternoon to break ground on two single-family homes.

Executive director Mattie Jordan Woods says this project is an effort to invest in the people who live and work on the northside by revitalizing the neighborhood and promoting homeownership.

“This is where homes were, and for over 15 years, it was just a vacant lot, so it is that rebirth, that rejuvenation in saying we are not going anywhere. This is an anti gentrification strategy,” Woods said.

During the groundbreaking ceremony Woods introduced several community partners including Mayor David Anderson, city council members, Garland Construction, Fishbeck and others.

“We are building homes so people who already live here can remain here and for new people who want to come back … because a lot of our residents left because of the disinvestment was happening in our community and they want to come back,” Woods said.

The project began with a $1 million grant from the Stryker Foundation to help build the homes and will also create a skills trades center where residents can get the skills they need to stay in their homes and build generational wealth.

A county millage passed in 2020 also helped fund the new development.

“We will be the first house in here with a county millage,” Mary Balkema, Kalamazoo County’s housing director, said. “We know this neighborhood has had a 50 year disinvestment. We want to overinvest for the next 50 years and this is a great place to start.”

Two more homes will be built in that same lot. The goal is to build 21 homes on within that area.