GRAND RAPIDS — A West Michigan housing services and education nonprofit may have to cut back services this year as public funding support flatlines while costs and needs increase.
The Fair Housing Center of West Michigan applied for $85,000 under the city of Grand Rapids’ 2024 Neighborhood Investment Plan, which is funded by various federal agencies and programs. Under a proposal released this month, the Fair Housing Center would receive $75,000, or the same amount it received under last year’s Neighborhood Investment Plan.
“We really appreciate that we were included in the funding, we’re just disappointed we didn’t get an increase,” said Nancy Haynes, executive director at the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan. “We have nine of the best staff in the country, but it’s just hard when we can’t keep up with inflation.”
The Fair Housing Center was among many local organizations recommended to receive a portion of the total $8.5 million spending plan. The spending is primarily targeted for repairing or building hundreds of affordable housing units as well as expanding home ownership opportunities. The Grand Rapids City Commission first considered the spending plan during a March 14 meeting.
The city’s Community Development Office is accepting written feedback on the funding plan through April 14. The City Commission expects to sign off on the spending plan at its April 25 meeting.
Fair Housing Center officials hope to receive other federal funds to help cover increased costs that would not be funded through the $75,000 allocation, though the organization will still likely have to cut back services, Haynes said. That might include less education and outreach that the organization provides to tenants and prospective homebuyers.
The Fair Housing Center of West Michigan provides a variety of housing services, and fields calls from people who believe they have been discriminated against during the housing process. The organization will either refer people to other resources or pursue an investigation if alleged discrimination occurred.
Nonprofit housing organization Dwelling Place is also set to receive less funding than it requested. A total of 76 Grand Rapids community organizations submitted funding proposals this year totaling $18.6 million.
Under the proposed plan, Dwelling Place would receive $700,000 to preserve roughly 200 affordable housing units at two of its properties, said Dwelling Place CEO Jeremy DeRoo. Dwelling Place applied for $800,000.
“There is always more demand for these funds than there is availability, so we are very appreciative,” DeRoo said. “We’re still looking for some more funding support, but having this local support helps us apply for other funds.”
Several people addressed the funding plan during a March 28 public hearing, when two residents advocated directing more money toward neighborhood associations, especially those in the city’s third ward. A total of $282,500 would be divided up between 11 neighborhood associations to “improve community safety,” according to the spending plan.
Nearly $6.5 million of the $8.5 million would go toward preserving Grand Rapids housing stock and keeping housing units affordable. Recipients of the housing improvement funds would include nonprofits Dwelling Place, Disability Advocates of Kent County and Home Repair Services of Kent County.
Another $1.38 million would support creating 145 new housing units at three projects across the city: Amplify GR’s Boston Square Together, LINC UP’s MoTown Square and United Methodist Community House’s UMCH 900 project.
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