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Kent Co. Commissioners to vote on $3 million-plus program supporting rental assistance, those experiencing homelessness

The HUD-based American Rescue Plan funding is expected to assist affordable housing.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Kent County Board of Commissioners will be voting on the HOME Investment Partnership program (HOME) Thursday morning during a regular meeting. 

If approved, more than $3.3 million in supplemental American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) monies from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will be utilized to help with affordable housing.

The HOME-ARP program provides funding to jurisdictions like Kent County to reduce homelessness and increase housing stability across the country.

The $3 million-plus would be spread into three different categories: Providing tenant-based rental assistance and supportive services, as well as covering administrative and planning costs.

“Using these dollars will not only help prevent homelessness, but also help get folks who are homeless into housing and help folks who are struggling or at risk of homelessness into housing and provide the level of stability needed to move oneself out of poverty and seek a more stable and fulfilled life,” said District 18 Commissioner Stephen Wooden.

According to the HOME-ARP Allocation plan included in Thursday’s agenda, it is estimated that a minimum of 277 households will be supported through the funds, based on up to $1,000 of assistance per month per household for a period of up to 24 months.

Wooden said while it is an important step, more collective work still needs to be done.

“When it comes to solving the housing crisis, it's all hands on deck,” he said. “It is local, state and federal partners all together.”

Separate from the HOME-ARP program is the $127.6 million in ARPA funding also made available to the county. One of the projects selected that Wooden is also proud of is the $17.5 million going toward the Kent County Homes Fund.

That investment was addressed by Grand Rapids mayor Rosalynn Bliss in her state of the city address Tuesday while on the subject of the homelessness issue.

“In 2021, our city organized the Affordable Housing Fund. In 2022, we seeded the fund with $5 million. Those will be dispersed yet this year for meaningful and important projects,” Bliss said. “This year we will grow that fund by another $10 million.

“Together with another $9 million from the state of Michigan thank you to our state partners. We are growing our capacity to bring more low income and affordable housing to our community. Housing affordability is also a priority for our partners at the county. So, thank you, our county commissioners who are here tonight. They recently established a revolving housing fund and they seeded it with more than $17 million. Thank you, Commissioner Wooden.”

Wooden said he hopes that fund can eventually grow to $100 million with private and philanthropic funding.

“That's our goal, at least our internal hope, and that that funding itself can make a huge dent in meeting some of the housing needs. But that alone won't fix it either. This is a crisis that will require city, town, village, county, state and federal partners working together and the private sector to build more homes, build more affordable homes and provide more stability for our most vulnerable residents.”

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