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Plans for LINC UP’s MoTown Square affordable assisted living project in Grand Rapids. Plans for LINC UP’s MoTown Square affordable assisted living project in Grand Rapids. Credit: TowerPinkster/DeStigter Architecture & Planning

$8.5M Grand Rapids spending plan calls for affordable housing, neighborhood investments

BY Tuesday, March 14, 2023 07:36pm

GRAND RAPIDS — City officials have released a plan for spending $8.5 million in federal funding primarily on repairing or building hundreds of affordable housing units and creating homeownership opportunities.

The Grand Rapids City Commission’s Committee of the Whole on Tuesday discussed funding recommendations and priorities that support the city’s annual Neighborhood Investment Plan and align with Grand Rapids’ strategy for spending federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars. The funding comes from various federal agencies.

“Every year we talk about the disbursement of these funds, and the intent is they support organizations and help to also leverage private dollars,” Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said during the meeting.

The priorities emerged after a total of 76 Grand Rapids community organizations submitted proposals totaling $18.6 million. 

A majority, or nearly $6.5 million, of the $8.5 million plan would be used to improve the condition of Grand Rapids’ housing stock as well as build more affordable housing units. 

That includes nearly $4.3 million to renovate and preserve 224 affordable rental units; repair and make accessibility improvements in 675 homes; and bring 3,500 housing units into compliance with various codes.

Recipients of the housing improvement funds would include nonprofits Dwelling Place, Disability Advocates of Kent County and Home Repair Services of Kent County.

Another $1.38 million would support the creation of 145 new housing units at three housing developments in the city: Amplify GR’s Boston Square Together, LINC UP’s MoTown Square and United Methodist Community House’s UMCH 900 project.

The spending plan also would direct more than $800,000 to support affordable homeownership for eight households via acquisition, development and resale (ADR) projects planned by various housing nonprofits.

“The amount of federal funding appropriated from a variety of sources this year will help meet the needs of our low-income and unhoused populations,” Connie Bohatch, the city’s senior managing director of community services, said in a statement.

Another recommendation would direct nearly $1 million to local nonprofits that would provide 200 households with financial assistance for permanent housing, including through Community Rebuilders’ tenant-based rental assistance and Salvation Army’s rapid re-housing program.

The city’s spending proposal also would direct $75,000 each to the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan and Legal Aid of Western Michigan for fair housing education and outreach, testing to determine compliance with fair housing laws, and housing legal support.

Outside of the housing initiatives, city officials propose allocating nearly $700,000 to neighborhood associations across the city to promote neighborhood stability and equitable development, public safety and community mental health. 

Another $195,000 would be directed to five nonprofits — Grand Rapids Urban League, Hispanic Center of West Michigan, Steepletown, West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology and the Women’s Resource Center — to provide job training or readiness programs to 218 people.

The City Commission will gather public feedback on the recommendations over the next month and during a March 28 meeting. The commission will then vote on the spending plan by April 25. 

Read 3190 times Last modified on Thursday, 16 March 2023 10:52