City makes first deposit to affordable housing fund

West Garfield Apartments, a 26-unit complex on the city’s southwest side, is one recent example of new affordable housing cropping up in the city. Courtesy Orion Construction

Grand Rapids took its first financial step to increase affordable housing supply and address racial and ethnic disparities in housing.

The city commission on Tuesday, Dec. 7, approved a payment of $957,365.78 to be deposited to the affordable housing fund’s fiduciary, the Grand Rapids Community Foundation (GRCF).

Grand Rapids CFO Molly Clarin and Deputy City Manager Eric DeLong will provide initial instructions to GRCF for the investment with plans in place for the soon-appointed 11-person affordable housing fund board (AHFB) to provide future financial direction.

The affordable housing fund was established through the work of the city’s housing practice leader, Housing Next, and funding to address housing disparities first was envisioned in the city’s fiscal year 2021 budget and adopted earlier this year, the Business Journal previously reported.

After receiving more than 100 applicants, the city commission is expected to begin appointing members to the AHFB in early 2022. The board will provide recommendations to steer spending and distribution decisions and will draft bylaws and policies for the fund. Plans for the board also include drafting requests for proposals for the investment of $5 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act funds for affordable housing and making investment recommendations to the city commission.

The AHFB will be given authority to promote gap financing in support of mixed-income, nonprofit and for-profit development projects that include affordable housing and also will be empowered to provide income-qualified homeowner assistance grants or loans to support needed repairs, reduced energy and climate-focused costs, and additions for accessory dwelling units.

The board also may evaluate property acquisition, preservation and pre-development of loan funds for qualified and experienced nonprofit housing partners.

More information on the Grand Rapids Affordable Housing Fund is at the city’s website.

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