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michaelskis

Residential Quality of Living

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When I was looking for a place to live in Grand Rapids, I drove though some bad neighborhoods. Downfall was some of these neighborhoods had phenomenal historic architecture that was being diminished by the 4 junked cars parked on the back or side lawn, peeling paint, and other obvious neglect.

Does anyone know if the City is aggressively perusing proactive code enforcement in efforts to maintain or improve the quality of live within the city? Additionally, what other ways do you think that these areas could be cleaned up to improve property values and the character of the neighborhoods?

It just takes something small to make a neighborhood slide into a state of disrepair.

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Micheal, there are a few neighborhoods in town that are like that. There are alot of neighborhoods, on the west, and south east sides, that are full of rental properties. In order to improve these places you'd have to force absentee landlords to be responsible, for the upkeep of their properties, or just over time, have people move into town that care, and fix these places up. The latter has started to happen. Neighborhoods that have a mixed use of properties, that are on the verge of being run down, and well kept homes and yards, are more easy to find in town. Check out the Cherry street neighborhoods, East of heritage hill. I have met alot of people moving to that area, and cleaning up the properties, in particular, the area of Fuller Ave, and Lake Dr. Any city is going to have run down neighborhoods. But investment in this town has been on the up for a while, I think you'll continue to see improvements around town as has been for the past 10/15 years.

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Micheal, there are a few neighborhoods in town that are like that. There are alot of neighborhoods, on the west, and south east sides, that are full of rental properties. In order to improve these places you'd have to force absentee landlords to be responsible, for the upkeep of their properties, or just over time, have people move into town that care, and fix these places up. The latter has started to happen. Neighborhoods that have a mixed use of properties, that are on the verge of being run down, and well kept homes and yards, are more easy to find in town. Check out the Cherry street neighborhoods, East of heritage hill. I have met alot of people moving to that area, and cleaning up the properties, in particular, the area of Fuller Ave, and Lake Dr. Any city is going to have run down neighborhoods. But investment in this town has been on the up for a while, I think you'll continue to see improvements around town as has been for the past 10/15 years.

That was one of the more noticeable ones for improvement that I have noticed. In fact, my fianc

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you'll see it all around town. I know the neighborhoods you are talking about. But me growing up in Detroit, is hard to look at the small GR neighborhoods, that are in Disrepair, and think they are deplorable. I'm sure i'm just numbed up by the big D, But the crappy neighborhoods in GR, are normally on par with the nice ones in Detroit. When people in GR talk about the "ghetto", I have to choose my words carefully.

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As much as I can agree about this... you have to stop and think about what we are saying about people's homes. I know from helping a family member keep up their place of rent I wasn't allowed to make improvements or upkeep, the landlord insists on letting things go until more tenants start complaining. What I can say is shame on the homeowners and lords who have decided to let things go even though they may have the time and money to keep the place up.

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As a landlord, (I've had a few different places - currently we own two houses for a total of 6 units) I can't believe how some of these landlords can get away with dirty houses in the City of GR. Our first place we spent TONS of time fixing up and really made it look nice and the inspector was such a pain. (fines for a tree touching the house, a small crack in the driveway, some faded paint in the front, etc.) For as picky as we were, I couldn't believe how much stuff she made us fix. Now we have fixed up two other places and have people clean up the yard and common areas weekly and try to keep it in tip-top shape, but if a tenant puts trash in the yard for a day unbagged, we get a citation from the city.

For someone who tries to keep his places in excellent shape and still gets stuff from the city, I don't know how these absentee landlords can get away with it. Maybe they just ingore the city, unlike us.

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What I can say is shame on the homeowners and lords who have decided to let things go even though they may have the time and money to keep the place up.

Precisely. Some of the homeowners in these areas don't have the time and/or means to keep up there houses. That could be due to age (of the homeowner), disablility or any number of factors. The houses on both sides of mine are pretty run down, but I'm sure it's due to uncontrolable circumstances (ie: age, money). Then there are rentals near by where the landlord simply doesn't care. It goes both ways.

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you'll see it all around town. I know the neighborhoods you are talking about. But me growing up in Detroit, is hard to look at the small GR neighborhoods, that are in Disrepair, and think they are deplorable. I'm sure i'm just numbed up by the big D, But the crappy neighborhoods in GR, are normally on par with the nice ones in Detroit. When people in GR talk about the "ghetto", I have to choose my words carefully.

I know exactly what you are talking about. I live in a city on the out skirts of Philly that had 85,000 people in less than 10 square miles. Many of the neighborhoods had serious maintenance violations. However programs were being put into place to make property owners responsible for the condition of their homes, and re-instating pride into many of the neighborhoods using local and federal grants.

As much as I can agree about this... you have to stop and think about what we are saying about people's homes. I know from helping a family member keep up their place of rent I wasn't allowed to make improvements or upkeep, the landlord insists on letting things go until more tenants start complaining. What I can say is shame on the homeowners and lords who have decided to let things go even though they may have the time and money to keep the place up.

Oh I realize that these are peoples homes, and not all of the homes in these neighborhoods have any issues. There are some very beautiful homes that are kept up, however, most cities have maintenance standards requiring property owners to prevent their property from being in violation. For example, the community that I live in now, has regulations against parking on the grass, peeling paint, broken windows, tall grass and weeds, in operable vehicles and such. We hold the property owners responsible for the condition of their property.

While it might not be fair to speak negatively of some of these homes, it's not fair to the individual who does invest time and effort, (not always money) to clean up and maintain their properties, when a neighbor may have very significant maintenance violations, inoperable vehicles, and other code violations.

I just hope that the city departments have the regulations and the capability (staff and money) to enforce those regulations. Additionally, there are always other avenues to cleaning up properties such as youth volunteers, church groups, and other organizations that are always willing to help.

A school in Chicago has the football team do a clean up day where they help elderly or disabled residents remove junk, brush, and other items from the yard. It installs a sense of community in those neighborhoods, helps to install team work mentality in the foot ball team, and changes the perception that many of these people have about high school kids. Instead of being a negative, the players are seen as a positive.

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Point of reference: The neighborhood east of Heritage Hill is East Hills and we have been an exemplar of grassroots community organizing to make things happen. It takes a long time!! It took over ten years to get the East Hills Center (of the universe) built, but well worth it!

In comparison to other cities of our size and larger, GR has a fairly well maintained housing stock. It can always get better but it isn't the worst! The key is organizing and putting money yin at the street level. The city government is not going to solve the problem, bureaucracies do not function that way. But, working at the ground level with people to improve their own street does work. The more successful neighborhoods in Grand Rapids are the results of more successful community organizations at work.

This is from the neighborhood soapbox perspective of course! City policy and code enforcement are of course necessary but will not produce long-term systemic change, which is the ultimate solution. You have to have local ownership and control for anything to stick

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My aunt owns property in HH. I had to do some maintenance and repair on the buildings. Let me say just this: holy smokes. There were some strict guidelines for the homes; I had to use: certain types of wood, certain colors, most of the stuff had to be from the period the house was built.

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Precisely. Some of the homeowners in these areas don't have the time and/or means to keep up there houses. That could be due to age (of the homeowner), disablility or any number of factors. The houses on both sides of mine are pretty run down, but I'm sure it's due to uncontrolable circumstances (ie: age, money). Then there are rentals near by where the landlord simply doesn't care. It goes both ways.

On my way to my parent

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Codes and laws can be helpful but sometimes only the market can take care of problems like this. Unfortunately, the market has a tendency to work slow...very slow. I have faith though, with the rapid investment that is being made in Grand Rapids and the growing popularity of the urban restoration movement, GR is starting to move in the right direction. Of course there is still plenty of work to be done.

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look at GR now, and GR fifteen years ago, work has started going faster and faster. Just imagine what the city will look like in five years.

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I just bought a nice little place in the neighborhood you're referring to. Where is this section of homes that were removed?

Where'd you end up setting up "El Casa de Two Short"?

Congrats on your first home! They're tons of work!

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I just bought a nice little place in the neighborhood you're referring to. Where is this section of homes that were removed?

Its the area by what I think is called "Joe Taylor Park".

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Its the area by what I think is called "Joe Taylor Park".

Ah, I don't even know where that is. Clearly I haven't had a whole lot of time to check out the neighborhood.

Where'd you end up setting up "El Casa de Two Short"?

On sigsbee st near diamond. It's pretty much RIGHT by where lighthousedave and his crew are putting uptown village. And close enough to where I can walk to Bazzani's beer fest next year.:alc: And it sure is a lot of work. Since it was a complete remodel it's all white, nothing in the closets to hang or put anything on, no blinds, etc etc. I've beaten quite the path between my front door and the hardware store in the last week, that's for sure.

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