The large construction area along M-72 in Cedar, MI (Leelanau County) is hard to miss. What could have easily been missed was the five-year planning on behalf of two organizations and community members to make it happen.
The location will soon hopefully be the site of 14 new affordable homes for rent and sale by a single developer, New Waves Community Church of Christ. The project was launched last month.
New Waves had nearly two dozen acres set aside on the property to build a church through the Michigan Conference of the United Church of Christ.
But Pastor Jody Betten sought feedback from the community on what they wanted to see there.
“What they kept saying is we have churches, what we don’t have is cheap housing,” says Tina Allen, New Waves volunteer project director.
They tapped Habitat for Humanity Grand Traverse Region to be the builder after hearing about the success of the Neighborhood Depot, sustainable, eco-friendly housing at an affordable cost. In exchange, Habitat is able to provide homeownership opportunities to six families.
“Habitat has been there to do better for the communities, the families we serve, but also the environment, so the net zero solar project caught the attention of the pastor who wanted to talk about this concept here,” says Irvin. .
The new homes will be built solar-ready and placed in a circle with green spaces in front and behind. The remainder of the property that New Waves owns will consist of homes and a church/community center in the future.
Allen and Irvin hope the six Habitat homes and seven rentals owned and operated by New Waves will use the green space for a community garden.
Homes through Habitat will be offered to those with a median income between 30-80% in the area, and rentals will be offered between 30-50%.
Allen says the reason the church took on the developer role was because they “want to be involved in justice because that’s who we are.”
Irvin says Leelanau County ranks first in its region for barriers to providing affordable housing for the workforce. Homes will be designed with these people in mind.
But the project costs more than $2 million and needs help to fund it. Irvin says the infrastructure is paid for and the first homes will be built this summer, but donations will be needed as the project moves forward.
“We need to keep fundraising to make sure we can complete it from our end, and the New Waves congregation who are fundraising as well.” Irvin said. “Together we have a lot of money to raise from the community, but we know the heart and the passion are there and the need is at a crisis stage.”
Habitat for Humanity Grand Traverse Region was applauded by its fundraising partner, Consumer’s Energy, as part of the Power of Home Matching Campaign. They took second place out of 48 Michigan affiliates to raise $48,503. The money goes to projects like New Waves and Maple City Crossings.
Anyone interested in being part of the build or donating to the cause can contact Habitat for Humanity Grand Traverse Region.