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Churches, Nonprofit Plan Affordable Housing for Downtown Holland




HOLLAND, Mich (WOOD) — Two churches are working with a nonprofit to bring affordable housing to downtown Holland.

“Holland has seen significant rent increases. We’re finding that it’s harder and harder for working class families to be able to find quality places for people to live,” Dwelling Place CEO Jeremy DeRoo said.

If the project goes through, Dwelling Place would own and operate two apartment buildings at Pine Avenue and 10th Street containing a total of 46 units. It would be the Grand Rapids-based nonprofit’s second development in Holland.

The idea came from two neighboring churches, Hope Church and First United Methodist Church. Each had its own plans to use land they own to increase the stock of affordable housing.

“What we have isn’t just for us, it’s not just for us as a congregation, but it’s for us to share with the community as part of our ministry,” LuAnne Stanley Hook, director of community involvement at First United Methodist, said.

First United Methodist Church in downtown Holland.

Her church started talking about the idea in 2018, when clergy saw a number of people searching for housing. That birthed an initiative to assist the homeless, many of whom were struggling to be rehoused, and soon a research project to study affordable housing.

During that process, First United Methodist learned Hope Church had the same goal.

“It was just all born out of relationship,” Hook said.

She said around during that time, there were at least three different developments that were supposed to add housing but all fell through.

“That concerned us but we thought that church or churches being excited about being in relationship with a development and being part of creating a development would go a long way for making it more of local thing,” Hook said.

The apartments will serve low-income families and at least 11 of the units have been set aside for people with disabilities. The overall goal is to keep more money in renters’ pockets.

“In our project that we are looking at, the higher-end rent will be around $1,000 a month and that’s significantly below where the market is,” DeRoo said.

First United Methodist Church owns three rental properties that will be torn down and replaced by the three-story building space. There will also be a two-story building with 15 units across the street.

The plan for the proposed housing development. (Courtesy: Dwelling Place)

“This development would be 30% of a person’s income. It would be accessible to a variety of people including those who might be able to obtain Section 8 vouchers for subsidized housing,” Hook said.

Church leaders say it’s going to take more than this one project to see effective change.

“There’s a lot of potential out there if we all work together we can make a dent in this affordable housing problem,” Hook said.

Hope Church in downtown Holland.

There will be two community meetings on April 28 to to gain insight from the public on site designs and overall concerns about the project. The first meeting will last from noon until 1 p.m. The second one will last from 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Both will be held at Hope Church on 11th Street at S. River Avenue.

“We really are trying to take the ideas we have so far to meet the zoning requirements and building requirements and finding out how we can make this happen. We want to have as many conversations with community members as possible to make sure what we designs fits well with the community,” DeRoo said.

If you would like to learn more about how adding affordable housing where you live, there will be a virtual advocacy training on May 5 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. via Zoom. You can contact Hope Church or First United Methodist Church for more information.


Health News

New GR Pharmacy to Serve Spanish-speaking Patients




GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — By the end of the year, Grand Rapids’ Roosevelt Park neighborhood will have a new pharmacy.

Trinity Health Clinica Santa Maria began construction Monday morning on the $1.5 million project. The new pharmacy will include both walk-up and drive-thru services.

Trinity Health Clinica Santa Maria practice leader Kameron Selleck it will offer convenience in a neighborhood that doesn’t have a pharmacy close in proximity, making it challenging for patients to get their prescriptions in a timely manner.

“A lot of our patients do encounter a lot of social barriers in their lives,” Selleck said.

He added that a language barrier can make it difficult patients to get their prescriptions. He said nearly every employee at Clinica Santa Maria is bilingual in Spanish and the plan is for that trend to carry over to new pharmacy and pharmacy tech hires.

“I think this project was announced almost five years ago, so it’s here,” Selleck said. “I just really encourage the community to be as excited as we are.

The pharmacy is at 730 Cesar E. Chavez Ave. SW (formerly Grandville Avenue) at Martin Luther King Jr. Street (formerly Franklin Street) in Grand Rapids. It will be the seventh Trinity Health pharmacy in the Grand Rapids area, with the other locations being Cathedral Square, the Wege Building at Trinity Heath Saint Mary’s, Hudsonville, Rockford, Byron Center and Southeast Grand Rapids.

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Tulip Time Crowds Encouraging for Returning Festivals




HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Tulip Time saw big crowds this year as it returned to a more regular schedule.

The event was cancelled in 2020 and scaled back last year because of the pandemic.

Hot temperatures caused damage to some of Holland’s tulips, Tulip Time organizers say.

The heat caused challenges for the 2022 festival. The Tulip Immersion Garden, a new attraction, had to close early because the hot temperatures caused too much damage to the flowers, Tulip Time Executive Director Gwen Auwerda said.

“They don’t like 80 degree, 90 degree weather. Tulips prefer it to be about 40 at night, 60 to 70, maybe 80 during the day,” Auwerda said.

Heat closes down Tulip Time Immersion Garden early

The organization is working on final numbers but saw attendance return to pre-pandemic levels.

“I do know that the carnival exceeded 2019 by 25 to 30%, so that was fabulous for them and it was packed everywhere in town,” Auwerda said.

Kevin Knight, the owner of Market Zero, said the festival definitely provided a boost as they worked to keep up with demand. 

“It’s a huge kick off to your summer season,” Knight said. “Our fridges were completely full and got completely empty and completely full and completely empty, so it was about everything we could handle.”

Market Zero in downtown Holland on May 16, 2022. Inside Market Zero in downtown Holland on May 16, 2022.

The return of crowds could be good sign for other events coming back this summer, like the Festival of the Arts in Grand Rapids. Mark Azkoul, an organizer for the event that began in 1970, sees the success of Tulip Time as encouraging.

Tulip Time has record-breaking opening weekend

“We’ve been out for two years so this is a big thing for us and for the city to get Festival back up and going,” Azkoul said.

Organizers created the Plein Air event for 2021, which combined outdoor art and music.

The 2022 event runs June 3 through June 5. After taking a break because of the pandemic the festival needs extra help.    

“A lot of people still don’t know yet festival is coming back, so we really want to get the word out. We need more volunteers,” Azkoul said.

People interested in volunteering can sign up on the Festival of the Arts website.


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Health News

Mom Does ‘small Part’ to Help Parents Who Need Formula




HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Though there appears to an end of the baby formula shortage in sight, it’s still causing problems for parents, so a mother in Holland did what she could to help.

Abbott Nutrition has announced its entered into an agreement with the federal Food and Drug Administration to restart its Sturgis plant within two weeks. The closure of that plant has been a huge contributing factor to the shortage. The company expects its products to ship to stores eight weeks after production resumes.

But for now, many parents can’t find the formula they need. The low supply has some stores limiting the number of formulas customers can purchase, adding that they are in “extraordinary high” demand.

The baby formula shelves at a Meijer in Holland.

So Caitlin Dampier, a mother of two whose youngest is a 3-month-old girl, stepped up to help where she could.

“I really wish I could help out more, but this is just my small part,” Dampier said.

She got a box of Enfamil formulas that she’s not using because she’s breastfeeding.

“When you’re pregnant, you get free samples and so I thought I would just offer mine for free for mothers who need them,” Dampier said. “I kept it around in case I wasn’t able to breastfeed.”

5 things to know if you can’t find baby formula

Dampier made a post on Facebook this week directed at parents who can’t find formula. The box she received included three cans of Enfamil formulas and two ready-made formulas.

Two mothers reached out to her, including Kourtney Hann, another Holland resident. She’s one of thousands of mothers across the country who have had to go to great lengths to find food for their baby.

“I have had to go to stores maybe 45 minutes away just to even try to get formula,” she said. “It’s very hard to find them where I’m at right now. I went to Walmart yesterday and all they had was Similac and my daughter has a really bad reaction to Similac.”

Hann was able to connect with Dampier and picked up a can of Enfamil. Dampier left the box on her front porch with the message, “Please take only the formula you chose and tear out some coupons for yourself. My prayers are with you during this difficult time.”

The box of Enfamil products Caitlin Dampier left at her door for mothers to pick up.

Hann said she was down to her last can of baby formula which lasts her about five days. Now that she has received another can from Dampier, she’ll be able to feed her 9-month-old for the next two weeks.

“Being a mom is hard enough as it is. You have so many other struggles and to be afraid to know if you’re going to be able to feed your baby or not is a struggle,” Dampier said. “You want to do everything for your kids so when you’re not able to it’s hard. It’s just the worst feeling in the world.”


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