David Baldwin, president of Grand Traverse Area Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP), remembers his first visit to a family moving into a home purchased by SVdP. The home is part of SVdP’s reduced income housing project (RIHP), an effort to utilize more of the housing vouchers available through the state to address Northern Michigan’s affordable housing challenge. This program is in keeping with St. Vincent’s commitment to finding gifts that keep giving.

“The kids were so wary,” he recalls. “They had been living in their car with their mom prior to this placement. They were unwilling to engage and seemed defensive, like they were afraid of the world, filled with uncertainty.”

When Baldwin came back this spring to renew the family’s lease, he was amazed. “The kids were smiling and talkative, riding bikes in the driveway.” He heard chatter about having their own bedrooms, loving their house and their mom’s new job.

The home was the result of a legacy gift from a deceased donor’s family that was large enough to allow St. Vincent de Paul to buy the home with cash—essential in the tight Traverse area real estate market. “A significant philanthropist once said, ‘Don’t ask me for a few dollars, ask me to make an investment in my community, something that will make a difference,’” Baldwin says. “The shortage of affordable housing is a big stumbling block in the area, and that difference to which he was referring, could be an investment in this and other housing projects that allow more people a chance to thrive.”

St. Vincent de Paul strives to provide warmth, promote employment and prevent homelessness, as many agencies do, yet they would like to see the net cast wider and become part of a stronger grassroots effort to address the affordable housing gap. “The state has vouchers and the area has housing; let us bring the two together,” says Baldwin. 231.947.8466 ext. 101.

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