Housing commission offers seniors a deal

July 10, 2009
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Low-income seniors looking for an affordable place to live might want to check with the Grand Rapids Housing Commission.

GRCH has one-bedroom apartments available at four of its complexes and is offering qualified seniors who become first-time tenants free rent for the first month.

The limited-time offer is available at Adams Park Apartments at 1440 Fuller Ave. SE, Leonard Terrace Apartments at 1315 Leonard St. NE, Mount Mercy Apartments at 1425 Bridge St. NW and Ransom Tower Apartments at 50 Ransom Ave. NE.

“We’ve been offering this for a little while. The waiting list for all those developments has been fairly low, so we’ve been trying to do some marketing and get folks to apply for those developments,” said Carlos Sanchez, executive director of the housing commission.

“Usually it’s hard for low-income seniors to move from their current situation because they have to pay security deposits and rent in advance, so this can help them.”

A security deposit is required at the apartment complexes, but the amount is based on a senior’s annual income so the deposit should be affordable. Monthly rent is income-based too; the charge will not exceed 30 percent of a senior’s income.

“The rent ranges from as low as $125 to as high as $400, depending on their income,” said Sanchez of the monthly charge that includes utilities.

Rent subsidies come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Tenants have to meet federal income guidelines. (See related chart.)

All the retirement apartments offer barrier-free access, free parking, security cameras in public areas, an entrance intercom system, laundry facilities and major appliances. Some complexes offer amenities such as an exercise room, library and computer lab.

The housing commission owns a fifth complex, but the free rent offer doesn’t apply to Sheldon Apartments because the building is full and a waiting list exists. Sanchez said the occupancy rate at the other four is about 96 percent.

“Even though our occupancy is high, the reason it’s high is because it’s subsidized. But right now, the elderly population is pretty well saturated in the market in this area,” he said.

“We really don’t have an active waiting list at this point. We have contacted the people on the waiting list. They’re still interested but they’re not ready to move. So we might have 20 to 30 people on the list, but they’re just not ready to move.”

Seniors must be 62 to be income eligible. Disabled persons who are at least 55 also qualify. Those between 55 and 61 who are not disabled will pay market-rate rent.

Adams Park has 188 units, Leonard Terrace has 125, Mount Mercy has 180 and Ransom Tower has 153. GRHC offers a total of 4,050 units of affordable housing in the city.

More information on the rent offer is available by calling 235-2600 and at www.grhousing.org

The City Commission established GRCH in 1966 to provide housing for low-income residents and to eliminate substandard housing conditions.

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