MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — The City of Muskegon is investing more than $6 million into a new project to build affordable homes on vacant lots.

The funding will be split through a public and private partnership using pandemic stimulus money to help with the initial cost.

The homes will be built in the McLaughlin neighborhood and will be sold at an affordable rate, according to City Manager Frank Peterson.

“We have somewhere around in the neighborhood of 800 vacant lots,” Peterson said. “Our goal is to build affordable housing at many different levels on those 800 lots.” 

The city has been working on affordable housing for years. But for the first time, it will be partnering with a private developer to build homes for people who make too much to qualify for low-income programs but do not make enough to afford the market rate.

“We think some of them will be $200,000 to build. Some of them will be $250,000 to build. Everything else will probably be somewhere in between,” Peterson said.

The city manager says it makes sense to use the existing city infrastructure that the lots have easy access to.

“These vacant lots that you see throughout town had homes on them and they’ve slowly disappeared. We think the smartest thing for us to do, rather than focus on building new neighborhoods, or new subdivisions or new things, is to go back into these core neighborhoods and kind of fill in the missing gaps,” Peterson said.

About $3 million in federal stimulus funding will help with the initial costs along with $3 million from the private developer. The money generated could help keep the program running.

The goal is to start bringing the homes to the market in about a year and to encourage others to invest in the area.

“The big benefit of this is building a sustainable community. We want to have housing that’s for everybody, including big families and small families and young and old,” Peterson said.