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City of Grand Rapids authorizes nearly $5 million in ARPA funds for affordable housing & services

Hilary Farrell

The City of Grand Rapids commission authorized the disbursement of nearly $5 million in federal funding on Tuesday.

The funding comes from federal American Rescue Plan dollars, also known as ARPA funds.

Under the approved authorization, six projects will receive funding for the construction of 215 housing units.

According to a city memo, 157 of the units will be considered APRA eligible with 77 of those new units supporting households earning at or below 50% of the area median income. 25 units will be set aside for households earning 0-30% of the AMI.

More than $490,000 of the funds will go to the 61st District Court for its Eviction Diversion Initiative and the AYA Youth Collective for its supportive housing program for youth experiencing homelessness.

Deputy City Manager Kate Berens said the need for affordable housing is critical as the city experiences rapid growth.

We are considered a very livable and desirable city and our need to add housing units hasn’t kept pace with that sort of attractiveness, which has the downside of things are becoming less affordable and there’s more demand for the units that out there so it’s harder for people to find something that’s affordable for them,” she said.

Berens said more housing is needed in general and at all price points. But she says the ARPA dollars will help get the ball rolling on projects that have been in the pipeline for some time but required extra funds because of inflation costs.

“When you’re dealing with affordable housing and affordable units that are intended to serve people at or below 80% area median income," she said, "Those projects need subsidies, they need grants, or they need very low interest loans in order for them to actually be constructed because they can’t rely on the rents to cover all of the costs of constructing something where you’re holding the rents below the market.”

The Commonwealth Development Corporation of America received the most funding with $1.5 million. The funds will go toward a project to convert the historic Lexington School into apartments.

Other awarded projects include Amplify GR’s Boston Square Together project, which received $540,000 and Genesis Nonprofit Housing Corporation’s Leonard Apartments, which received $1,200,000.