Published in Economic Development

Grand Rapids signals neighborhood, business spending with $3.3M in stimulus funding

BY Friday, May 01, 2020 01:42pm

GRAND RAPIDS — The city of Grand Rapids will use $3.3 million in federal funding authorized through the CARES Act on neighborhoods, business recovery and transportation and infrastructure, City Manager Mark Washington said Thursday during a virtual town hall meeting.

The $2.2 trillion CARES Act, signed by President Trump on March 27, authorizes $17.4 billion for housing activities, and $5 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.

City Manager Mark Washington COURTESY PHOTO

Grand Rapids has received more than $2.2 million in CDBG funds, as well as more than $1.1 million in Emergency Shelter Grants that, while not yet received, will be used for transportation and infrastructure, Washington said. The CDBG funds will focus on low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, he added.

Grand Rapids will use the CDBG funds for “resident resiliency” to mitigate COVID-19’s effects on neighborhoods, “business resiliency and recovery” to help companies sustain the shutdown and prepare for recovery, and “community reactivity,” Washington said Thursday.

The $3.3 million is helping to offset a fiscal year 2020 budget deficit currently pegged at $13 million, or a net 7-percent decline, that could reach $23 million. Washington presented a proposed fiscal year 2021 budget on April 28, which the City Commission will consider before adopting a final budget at the end of May.

Elsewhere in West Michigan, Kent County received more than $1 million in CDBG funds, followed by Muskegon ($585,238), Wyoming ($340,484), Muskegon Heights ($260,496) and Holland ($191,446).

The Urban Institute calls CDBG a “powerful tool” that is used directly in communities for facility improvements, property acquisitions and rehabilitation and helping with home ownership. It calls the $5 billion from the CARES Act a “big funding increase for CDBG, which has seen funding steadily decline over the past two decades.”

Although federal funds have started flowing into communities dealing with the widespread economic effects of COVID-19, local and state governments still need hundreds of billions of dollars more, advocates say. Efforts are ongoing for additional — and direct — budget support from Congress, but the outlook remains unclear as some top officials have expressed skepticism toward the plan.

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