AYA Youth Collective and partners building home for local youth

Representatives from AYA Youth Collective and First Companies break ground on the new home for Q last week. Courtesy AYA Youth Collective

A recent graduate of AYA Youth Collective’s housing resource program will get a new home next year, thanks to a collaboration between several community partners.

The Grand Rapids-based nonprofit AYA Youth Collective — formed to better address youth homelessness through a merger this summer between 3:11 Youth Housing and Grand Rapids HQ — said that in partnership with Kentwood construction firm First Companies and other local organizations in the built industry, it broke ground Saturday on a 2,745-square-foot future home for “Q,” a local youth whose name is not being disclosed due to privacy concerns.

The house is being built under the management of First Companies with the support of many local subcontractors listed below. The home was designed by Dixon Architecture, and KJ Tucker of Concierge Home provided the real estate services. The project is expected to be completed in spring 2021.

Q is one of 500-plus youths who use AYA resources each year. AYA strives to create safe spaces that are rooted in relationships for young people ages 14 to 24 in Grand Rapids. The mentor supportive housing program that Q is graduating from is a place where youths can rest, recharge and heal. AYA mentors act as the first point of contact for young people in the program and focus on building community through weekly house dinners, shared experiences and daily interactions. AYA said 90% of program participants move into stable, independent housing following graduation.

In preparation for the next phase of his life, Q, with the help of AYA, began to evaluate his future housing options. Q currently is working in construction and aspires to become a construction manager, which AYA said made the opportunity to help build his own home “very exciting.”

“We are grateful for businesses like First Companies that go above and beyond to support the next generation of leaders entering the construction industry,” said Jon VanKeulen, chief housing and innovation officer for AYA Youth Collective.

“They recognize the need and respond in tangible ways to support the young people of our community. Young people like Q are our future, and they show us there is hope and a way forward. Homeownership generates wealth, which leads to long-term stability. We, at AYA, are honored to be a part of this journey with Q, First Companies and many other partners.”

Matt Sink, COO of First Companies, said when VanKeulen approached him with the idea to help, the answer was an immediate “yes.”

“Hearing this young man shares our passion for the construction industry, we are eager to take him under our wing and show him the ropes,” Sink said. “It means a great deal to us that we, as a team and an industry, are playing our part in building up the next generation of leaders.”

Partners in the build

  • Advanced Interiors
  • American Classic
  • Armock Mechanical
  • AYA Youth Collective
  • Builders FirstSource
  • Dixon Architecture
  • Ed and Lisa DeYoung
  • Excel Excavating
  • First Companies
  • HL Bolkema
  • In’t Hout Concrete Construction
  • Kent Companies
  • Kortman Construction
  • Schepers Brothers
  • Standard Lumber
  • Van Haren Electric
  • Whitson Insulation
  • Williams Distribution

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