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Housing Prices Continue to Rise Faster Than Income

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Downtown Grand Rapids. File Photo.

By Sarah Marilyn

The revitalization and resurgence of the Grand Rapids downtown corridor are leaving some residents in the area feeling the pinch, as housing prices increase making it more difficult for college students to find affordable housing options.

“Currently I am living with a roommate which creates a struggle to focus solely on academics and afford an ideal living situation,” said Kyon Sparks, 25, a Grand Rapids Community College student who is newly enrolled. “Prices for rent are ridiculous, and to be able to afford living alone in a one-bedroom apartment costs over $1,000 and is unaffordable for a college student. I would like GRCC to offer students housing assistance.” 

Kyons’ situation is not uncommon for students, and the costs of living often result in students having to compromise on other bills and luxuries. 

“My family moved here 3 years ago and recently I enrolled at Grand Rapids Community College, because of the unaffordable housing options I continue to live with my family as I pursue a degree in languages,” says Mohammad Mefleh, 29 a Grand Rapids Community College student. 

“I’ve found that renting houses/duplexes with roommates is the most affordable option, but looking for one-bedroom apartments are very difficult for a single person to afford,” said Cassidy Wilson, a former Grand Rapids Community College student who waits tables to pay the bills. 

Wilson, 25, lives in the Grand Rapids area and says she is reaching a breaking point after once-affordable options of living are now becoming unaffordable.

“While looking for single bedroom apartments, I found that most of them are income-restricted,” she said. “They are reserved for people with low income which is usually less than $22,000. So for people like me, who make a little bit more than that but not enough to afford the non-income restricted ones, it makes it difficult to find.” 

Meanwhile, groups like Inner City Christian Federation, Dwelling Place, and Genesis are some of the organizations that are creating new affordable housing options for income-restricted families, while local governments and charities are trying to address the problem.