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$4.6 million in Home American Rescue Plans set to be finalized in Grand Rapids

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Posted at 9:42 PM, Jan 13, 2022

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — There's some disagreement over $4.6 million in HOME American Rescue Plan funding and how it should be spent.

Grand Rapids is closer to dividing it up, but they want your thoughts on the split.

In its current draft,most of that money goes towards affordable housing. However, some shelters that help with that transition say they're feeling left out.

"The draft proposal, there are no dollars allocated for shelter," Grand Rapids AYA Youth Collective CEO Lauren Vankeuleun told FOX 17. "AYA supports youth ages 14 to 24 who are experiencing homelessness or unsafe or unstable housing situations."

Vankeulen says there's a real need out there to give children and young adults a place to sleep that's not on the streets.

"We see an average of 400 to 450 youth a year. And of those young people, we know right now that there's 53 youth who are currently sleeping on the streets, unsheltered," Vankeuleun said.

To curb those numbers, they're asking residents to step in. The city is taking public comment on spending plans for $4.6 million in Home ARP funds.

"There's always going to be federal regulations for what is required when funding comes into the community," Coalition to End Homelessness Director Courtney Myers-Katon said.

The City of Grand Rapids spent months coming up with its proposed plan on how to spend the money, which includes: $3 million for the development of affordable rental housing, $1.1 million of supportive services, including financial assistance, and $460,000 for administration and planning.

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"I think it's important to highlight is that when you're creating a plan like this, you want to look at the data that's available in our community," Myers-Katon told FOX 17.

This draft states the data shows a greater need for affordable housing than for additional shelter beds.

"We know it's really crucial because one of the ways that we solve homelessness is by having housing that's affordable for all. And we know right now in Kent County that we do not have that in Grand Rapids, we do not have that; we need more of that," Myers-Katon said.

Vankeulen says she would love to see a quarter of the $3 million for affordable housing to shelter needs. She says this could provide more than a dozen youth they serve a roof over their heads.

"So, please, know that there is a need for shelter, first of all; communicate that, and secondarily communicate and ask that there be resources, if not these dollars, other dollars to be used for shelter in our community," Vankeulen said.

The Grand Rapids Coalition to End Homelessness says that $1.1 million in supportive services will help people get into permanent housing.

Now, there are separate funds out there for rental assistance. You can check out some here.

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