GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Kent County is expected to start divvying up around $127 million of COVID-19 relief funds.

For the last several months, the county has been working with community members, business owners and organizations to learn what people in our community cared about most. After 33 meetings, six community forums and online surveys, Kent County said community health was the top priority.

The county also asked for general ideas on how the remaining American Rescue Plan dollars should be spent. It received more than 15,000 submissions, with topics ranging from affordable housing to community policing initiatives and renewable energy.

It has also received more than 300 formal proposals from organizations hoping to score some of the funds for new and ongoing community improvement projects.

The Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce said how these once in a generation funds are spent could set the city up for success.

“The commission and staff has a really hard task ahead of them. They’re going to be looking through a huge number of really great ideas and great submissions and (will) be able to fund a very … tiny percentage of those. And so what we want to see is the highest and best use of these dollars,” said Josh Lunger, the vice president of government affairs for the chamber. “I’ve done a lot of work on with our members and with other groups on housing and … access to high quality, desirable housing at all price points is something that supports quality of life and when you talk about community health, when you talk about those type of issues, those are all quality of life issues.”

The Kent County Board of Commissioners is currently reviewing the proposals and is expected to allocate money by the end of this year.

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