The number of homes listed for sale in metro Grand Rapids hit a 20 year low last year, according to new numbers released by the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors.
That’s as the average price of homes in Michigan’s second largest city hit an all-time high.
The realtor association says there were 14,577 homes listed for sale in the Grand Rapids metro area for 2018. That was down slightly from the year before, and lower than any other time since at least 1997.
The low supply meant that the average price of a home went up for another year. In 2018, the average price of a home in the area went up nine percent. The average home in Grand Rapids now costs about $225,349. That’s more than double what it was when the housing market crashed in 2009.
The numbers are great for anyone who already owns property, or for local governments that rely on property taxes. But high prices and low availability have created a crisis for people looking for homes. Not only is the cost of buying a home high. Rents are also well above where they were a few years ago.
The local job market has been doing well, and incomes have risen, but not nearly enough to keep up with the rising cost of housing.
That means something else has been rising too: the problem of homelessness.
This month, a new emergency homeless shelter is scheduled to open in Grand Rapids, to house up to 80 families who can’t find housing.
As Michigan Radio reported in December:
The shelter is inside a former nursing home. The city planning commission approved the site for use as emergency housing, but only for one year.
Cheryl Schuch is the head of Family Promise, which will run the shelter.
“We’ve had a big surge in need for shelter,” Schuch says. “And mostly housing for families with children in Grand Rapids.”
She says the new shelter will help address the problem in 2019. But the work continues to find a permanent solution to the growing problem of homelessness in Grand Rapids.
“We don’t have enough resources,” says Schuch. “The demand is exceeding the resources we have right now and we’ve got to do right by these families.”