New help is available for some tenants having a hard time paying their rent. The City of Grand Rapids, with the help of some local foundations, has launched a program to prevent evictions.

A statement released by city officials yesterday, said the program is "a win-win resolution. Landlords receive payment for back rent and tenants keep their homes without damage to their credit ratings."

The rental market in Grand Rapids is tight and competitively priced. Too often, many renters find themselves paying in danger of eviction. This pilot program hopes to provide some much needed relief.

All of this is made possible through a $300,000 grant that will be used over the next three years. The Steelcase Foundation and Grand Rapids Community Foundation have promised $150,000 each to support the eviction prevention program, which will be run through the 61st District Court. According to the release, the court administrator is optimistic about what it can accomplish.

"The 61st District Court welcomes the partnership with the City of Grand Rapids, DHHS and The Salvation Army," Court Administrator Gary Secor said. "We are excited about this initiative, which will benefit citizens of Grand Rapids."

The ultimate goal is to prevent as many evictions as possible, thereby keeping more families in their homes and out of shelters and transitional housing. The grant money will also help provide staffing that will be used to help those tenants access State Emergency Relief funds and other resources they may be eligible for.

The three-year pilot program will run through November 30, 2020. The project is a partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and The Salvation Army.

Officials say 61st District Court is not the first to have program like this, in Michigan. Several, including the 8th District in Kalamazoo and Kentwood's 62B District Courts also have programs to prevent evictions and subsequently reduce homelessness.

The hope is to expand the eviction prevention program to all six District Court judges.

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