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Affordable housing key focus in Mayor Bliss state of the city address

Courtesy office of Mayor Bliss

City of Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss delivered her 3rd State of the City Address last night at Clearwater Place. During her speech, Bliss spoke of nurturing a vibrant and diverse community engaged in developing talent. There was also a focus on improving public safety community relations, and a pressing need for more affordable housing.

“The affordable housing crisis has been one of the most complex and challenging issues we have faced,” Bliss said.

Bliss’s growing concern is that low- and moderate-income residents are being priced out of housing options. The area has one of the nation’s strongest real estate markets where home values and rents are on the rise. Providing housing options for the most vulnerable is one of the mayor’s priorities.

“We know this work requires a multi-pronged approach that includes private developers, nonprofit housing organizations and the public sector all working toward finding solutions,” she said. 

The city created the Housing Advisory Committee with more than 20 community stakeholders it proposed 11 recommendations that Mayor Bliss says are “aimed at creating housing choice and opportunities for all.”

“These recommendations are now collectively known as Housing NOW!," Bliss said. "My colleagues on the City Commission and I have already approved five of the recommendations.

Leveraging state and federal dollars where available also is part of the solution. Each year, we use Community Development Block Grant funds to support the maintenance, repair and improvement of more than 500 owner- and renter-occupied housing units.

"We also provide short-term rental assistance," she said. "In fact, this past year, we supported nearly 100 households for up to six months through the use of federal HOME funds.”

The mayor also pointed to the city’s eviction prevention pilot program and its property tax forgiveness programs helping residents keep a roof over their heads. 

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