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A rendering of Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity’s Haven Townhomes project. A rendering of Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity’s Haven Townhomes project. COURTESY OF LAKESHORE HABITAT FOR HUMANITY

Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity launching first affordable townhomes for residents with disabilities

BY Thursday, October 27, 2022 05:09pm

HOLLAND TWP. — Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity will break ground this week on its first housing project aimed specifically at individuals with disabilities.

Haven Townhomes will comprise five townhome-style units located at 12761 Felch St. in Holland Township. Lakeshore Habitat purchased the property for $80,000 from Haven Christian Reformed Church in November 2018, according to property records.

Lakeshore Habitat typically builds three-bedroom, single-family units, but Haven Townhomes’ one-bedroom units will serve individuals rather than families. Lakeshore Habitat Development Director Dave Rozman said these individual housing options can be difficult to find for people with disabilities.

“We’re trying to diversify the housing options that we are able to provide to the community, because one option doesn’t fit everybody,” Rozman told MiBiz. “There are diverse needs for different individuals and families.”

The housing project will provide occupants with home ownership in the 30-80 percent area median income range. 

“We are continuing to find creative ways to partner with other organizations to find housing solutions for our community, and especially for those who are marginalized,” Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Don Wilkinson said in a statement. “With Haven Townhomes, we have been given the opportunity to build affordable homes for individuals who may have lost hope in finding a secure, stable and affordable housing option — and something they can own for themselves.”

In 2021, 119 of the 225 housing discrimination allegations filed in Ottawa County were related to disability, according to Lakeshore Habitat. 

Haven Townhomes — Lakeshore Habitat’s first project specifically for people with disabilities — will be completely ADA accessible with everything located on the ground floor, Rozman said.

Lakeshore Habitat has received 400 interest forms from people seeking housing from the program this year. That number that is “very much up” from last year, Rozman said, adding that applicants have also expressed interest in the Haven Townhomes project.

‘I’m not couch surfing anymore’

Brittany Rabideau, 30, is among the first residents selected for the Haven Townhomes project so far. Rabideau works as a special education bus aide who has struggled to find affordable housing.

“I became used to hearing ‘no’ when it came to accessing an affordable, safe housing option,” Rabideau said in a statement, noting that she also receives social security disability. “One of the hardest aspects of having a disability is the stigma that comes with it, but also being able to find somewhere to live. A lot of the apartments immediately deny you because you don’t meet the income requirements or don’t want to partner with you because of the stigma.”

In September, 38 percent of the 16- to 64-year-olds participating in the labor force were people with disabilities, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. People without disabilities in the same age range participate in the labor force at a 77.1 percent rate. 

“Just being able to partner with Lakeshore Habitat has given me hope,” Rabideau said. “I’m not couch surfing anymore. I won’t be wondering each year, ‘Where am I going to live?’ or ‘Are they going to re-evaluate my situation?’ It’s giving me more hope and stability. I am a single individual which is why I will be living at Haven Townhomes — it will be great for me.”

Homeowners are selected by Lakeshore Habitat’s homeowner selection committee, which meets monthly and uses standard selection criteria in a way that does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, age, handicap, religion, marital status, or because all or part of the applicant’s income is derived from public assistance programs. 

While volunteers construct roughly 80 percent of all Habitat for Humanity projects, Lakeshore Habitat is working with Holland-based GDK Construction Co. to help complete the project by December 2023. 

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Read 1732 times Last modified on Friday, 28 October 2022 14:36
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