The Past, Present and Future of Affordable Housing

Picture: Mayor Bliss celebrated the home dedication with our Executive Director, Bev Thiel, and the future homeowners of the all-electric homes on Diamond. Photo by Mojet Photography.

The past, present and future of affordable housing was on full display at the recent dedication of Habitat Kent’s Diamond Avenue Project. 

Three families will make their home there, and just as 500 Habitat Kent families have done over the last 40 years, they will find stability, strength and opportunity through their affordable homes. 

The project was also a great example of Habitat Kent living into the central core of our mission, which is “bringing people together.” It started with a coalition organized by the National Ready-Mix Concrete Association that included: Consumers Concrete, Burgess Concrete Construction, Helix Steel, IntegraSpec ICF, Aggregate Industries, HolcimUS, and Master Builder Solutions. Together, along with a generous gift from Kum & Go corporation, they provided us with the materials and expertise to build the project using insulated concrete forms.

The result was 3 homes of superior strength, energy efficiency, and quietness, assembled by over 60 different volunteer groups from area schools, congregations and businesses 

But the project also represents a shift in our desire to significantly contribute to meeting the affordable housing needs of a growing city. “If our community and industry is going to provide the housing our citizens need, we have to employ higher density strategies,” said Executive Director, Bev Thiel. 

To accomplish this, we utilized zoning laws that enabled us to produce three attached, single-family homes on lots that were traditionally zoned for just two. 

Mayor Rosalynn Bliss told those gathered at the dedication, “We have had this vision of higher density, zero-lot-line, infill for a long time, and this project is a perfect example,” she said. “Affordable, accessible housing is a complex issue, and we need a multitude of solutions to get there, and this is one of them.” 

To learn more about our use of zero-lot-line laws, see this video or this one. 

Just as higher density is the future of housing in the city; low, or no-emission homes are the future of houses, everywhere. Homes are responsible for 26% of all energy used in Michigan, and 80% of that energy comes from greenhouse gas emitting sources occurring directly in the home. Simply put, someday our homes will take center stage in eliminating carbon emissions. 

For Habitat Kent, that someday is now. The homes on Diamond are all-electric, meaning that no emissions will take place within the home. Going forward, all Habitat Kent homes will be similarly equipped. The best news of all, the ratings of our first all-electric homes show Habitat Kent families will save even more money than before. It’s a win for families and a win for the future! 

You can learn more about our move to all-electric homes here.