Muskegon building affordable housing on vacant lots

Muskegon County

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — If you’re looking for affordable housing in the Muskegon area, look no further. The city is transforming several vacant lots into homes, but you will have to be patient.

The homes will be built on vacant lots in the Nelson, McLaughlin and Jackson Hill neighborhoods. They should be finished by the end of 2021.

Those neighborhoods, community leaders say, were the hardest hit by financial disinvestment but are now ripe for opportunity. 

The city of Muskegon saw opportunity on the vacant lots throughout the city — and took it. There are currently several hundred vacant lots throughout the city limits. The homes that will soon be built are a test, of sorts, to see just how profitable an endeavor like this could be. 

Muskegon’s Director of Economic Development Jake Eckholm says the three-bedroom, 1 ½ bath home that will soon fill the vacant lot near the corner of Jefferson Street and Monroe Avenue represents an innovative strategy to ‘in-fill’ housing.

“We’ve been very proactive about finding lots that are going to be good opportunities for redevelopment. For a while the private sector housing developers weren’t necessarily looking at our city limits to build because there were more, quote unquote, more profitable areas,” Eckholm said. “So, the public sector decided we have to do it ourselves to show them it can be done.”

Funding for the homes came from a number of partnerships with groups like Community enCompass and use of federal funds. 

Lots are close to many downtown amenities, they’re city owned and present opportunities for families in the 80% Area Median Income to move into the Muskegon area, which Eckholm says is on the up and up. 

“For a long time, West Michigan has sort of been sleeping on Muskegon. You know as somebody born and raised here; I’ve always loved the community. It’s been a very joyful thing to watch it transition into a more lucrative investment environment. I would tell folks to come here in the summertime when we have over one million tourists through our downtown where we have a dozen festivals,” Eckholm said. “It’s something truly special where there is something for everybody because of its affordability. Also, its culture and the arts and the entertainment is second to none.”

If you’re interested in buying one of these homes, reach out to Eckholm at jake.eckholm@shorelinecity.com.

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