CEO's Message

I want to welcome you to Dwelling Place's website. During 2015, Dwelling Place celebrates 35 years of making a difference in the communities and neighborhoods where we work. In this website, we continue we make our best effort to highlight the many different services and programs we offer in the neighborhoods and communities where we have a presence. We also share our mission and philosophy for the work we do. We remain most grateful for the community support we have enjoyed for these many years and for the opportunities afforded us during that time.

A year is not a long time in the life of an organization, a neighborhood or a city. Change seems inevitable to most of us but it is often incremental and sometimes difficult to discern without close examination. At Dwelling Place, we are familiar with the challenges that accompany the implementation of a larger vision for neighborhood and community revitalization. The Heartside Neighborhood in Grand Rapids where Dwelling Place has its origins, for example, was a very different place 35 years ago when the organization was founded. Boarded up buildings, decaying infrastructure and a pervasive sense of hopelessness about the problems that needed to be addressed were palpable.

Today, most who were familiar with the conditions in 1980 marvel at the transformation that has occurred over 3 decades. For newcomers to the city and to the neighborhood, it may seem hard to imagine a time when the entire neighborhood south of Fulton Street was almost always referred to as "Skid Row." While credit for this transformation can be aptly shared by many in both the public and private sector, the fact that gentrification has not become a consequence of this miraculous turnaround is largely a function of the vision shared by those who formed Dwelling Place 35 years ago. They imagined a neighborhood transformed when few others could. They realized the important role that an organization like Dwelling Place could play to create, improve and preserve affordable housing opportunities.

In recent years, with a broader understanding of how healthy neighborhoods grow, Dwelling has taken on new roles, often serving as a catalyst for economic development with 48 commercial leasing spaces and more than 50 live/work opportunities. Today our Avenue for the Arts program is a major catalyst for development in downtown Grand Rapids. We can also point to examples in other communities where our work has combined affordable housing with economic development. In Holland, for example, an entire city block has been transformed by our Midtown Apartments initiative, serving as an anchor for the southeast corner of the Holland Historic District.

The creation of a housing or commercial project begins with creativity in the formation of an idea or a vision that often precedes its completion by many years. The most sustainable projects resulting from these visioning processes are those that imagine possibilities which go beyond the physical structures being created. Dwelling Place intends to maintain this focus in all of our future endeavors, wherever we are asked to assist in making a difference.

On behalf of Dwelling Place, I thank you for visiting our website and learning more about what we do and how we engage the community to assist us in that effort. We want your experience on our website to be as easy to navigate and informative as possible.To that end, if you have any suggestions for how we might improve the website,please feel free to share your ideas and comments through the website or by contacting our office directly at 616-454-0928. Thank you and enjoy your visit!

Dennis Sturtevant