GR City Commission OKs affordable housing fund board

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids City Commission approved the creation of the Affordable Housing Community Fund Board at a meeting on Tuesday night.

The board is being created to address the issue of affordable housing in the city.

“There’s need for affordable housing and all kinds of housing,” Grand Rapids Deputy City Manager Eric DeLong said. “We think we are about 9,000 units short of where we ought to be by 2025.”

The fund will start with an initial investment of around $900,000.

“The Affordable Housing Fund Board will try to focus on where there is most need and try to help most people with funds they have,” DeLong said. “Starting with the funds will be moved into the affordable housing fund, but also with the $5,000,000 of American Rescue Plan Act money that has been envisioned to fiscal ‘22 plan for affordable housing.”

DeLong says fund money could be used a variety of ways.

“It could be rehabilitating existing homes to make them ready for families to live in or it could be new construction of affordable homes,” DeLong said.

The fund would give developers a financial boost to ensure affordable housing projects get underway.

“So, we have good not-for-profit and for-profit housing developers in this community,” DeLong said. “Sometimes, they get a hard project, they envision a hard project or take on a hard project that they need the extra cash to get financed — that’s where the affordable housing fund can come in and help.”

The board will be made up of eleven members. Mayor Rosalynn Bliss and City Manager Mark Washington will each get to appoint one member. City commissioners will get to appoint three members. Members of the community will appoint five members through the city’s committee on appointments. One of the seats on the board will go to the executive director of the Grand Rapids Housing Commission.

There have been talks about the board since 2015. DeLong says he’s glad the board is coming to fruition.

“Very important,” DeLong said. “Celebrate this for a day and then get to work.”

Board members will be elected later this year. Investments in projects will begin to take place next year.

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