Economic Development, Nonprofits, and Real Estate

Foundations award $300K to Grand Rapids for eviction prevention

October 30, 2017
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Two local foundations have awarded a total of $300,000 to the city for a program aimed at improving housing stability.

The Grand Rapids City Commission said last week it received $150,000 from the Steelcase Foundation and $150,000 from Grand Rapids Community Foundation to support an eviction prevention program in the 61st District Court.

The three-year pilot will run through Nov. 30, 2020.

Grant funds will support dedicated staffing in the court to provide pre-court and on-site assistance. The program will help tenants access State Emergency Relief funds and other resources available to eligible low- and moderate-income households that need help when an emergency arises.

Through the program, tenants will be able to avoid eviction for non-payment of rent and keep their homes without damage to their credit ratings. Landlords will also receive payment for back rent.

“Eviction is recognized as a key socioeconomic indicator leading to poverty, which the city needs to consider in addressing community equity issues,” Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said. “The data on who is affected by eviction and the causes will allow for improved policy and program responses.”

Affordable housing has been difficult to find in Grand Rapids’ real estate market, the city said. Preventing evictions will keep individuals and families in affordable homes and be "less costly" than providing emergency shelter, transitional housing or re-housing services.

Second Ward City Commissioner Ruth Kelly, who served on the recently launched Affordable Housing Committee, said she is thrilled to see the program come to fruition.

“This is a good example of how the city and community can work collectively to address affordable housing issues,” Kelly said.

The eviction prevention program was developed in response to the community’s Great Housing Strategies recommendation to “create a court eviction diversion pilot program,” Kelly said.

Several courts in Michigan, including the Kalamazoo 8th District and Kentwood 62B District courts, operate such programs.

In the 61st District Court, proceedings will initially be handled through the courtrooms of Judge Michael Distel and Judge Jennifer Faber. The program is expected to be expanded to all six district court judges.

The project is a partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, or DHHS, and The Salvation Army.

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