Published in Economic Development

GR officials consider $250,000 in pandemic relief for undocumented immigrants

BY Monday, August 10, 2020 04:16pm

The Grand Rapids City Commission is considering a $250,000 contribution to an emergency pandemic relief fund for undocumented immigrants and mixed status families who reside in the city and need housing assistance.

The commission’s Fiscal Committee will consider the proposal Tuesday morning ahead of the full commission Tuesday night.

GRCF program officer Erika VanDyke COURTESY PHOTO

The $250,000 would support the La Lucha Fund, which was created in April as a partnership between Movimiento Cosecha, the Grand Rapids Area Mutual Aid Network, Hispanic Center of Western Michigan and organizations affiliated with LatinxGR

The emergency relief fund helps undocumented and mixed status families in Kent County who need help with basic necessities and are ineligible for unemployment benefits, CARES Act relief or other government support. The city’s contribution would specifically assist with rent and mortgage payments for city residents.

The Grand Rapids Community Foundation is the fund’s fiscal sponsor. GRCF program officer Erika VanDyke says the fund has collected nearly $460,000 in donations so far, with contributions from the Kellogg Foundation, the Frey Foundation and DTE Energy. GRCF also provided $100,000 in seed grants.

GRCF accepts the donations while the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan issues checks or gift cards. Awards are up to $500 per family. In the first round of funding in April and May, the fund issued nearly $285,000 to help 800 families, VanDyke said.

“If we do get that city money, that will be a tremendous gift to support the community — we’re really excited about that possibility,” VanDyke said.

Connie Bohatch, the city’s managing director of community services, wrote in a letter this week that the funding is part of the city’s broader Economic Resiliency and Recovery Investment Strategy during the pandemic. The La Lucha funding would come from the city’s general fund and was already appropriated for fiscal year 2021.

“Especially with the eviction moratorium ending, families are struggling,” VanDyke said. “There are more than 13,000 undocumented people in (Kent County) that have just been left behind in so many ways in this space. It’s been wonderful to work with the community to meet those needs.”

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