Community Rebuilders helps 36 Grand Rapidians find homes

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A nonprofit working to end homelessness has put 36 individuals on the path to long-term housing with 24 of those already housed temporarily.

Grand Rapids-based Community Rebuilders said last week that many people without housing staying in the Rosa Parks Circle and Monroe Center area have a promising new year ahead, thanks to the Community Rebuilders Geographically Targeted Housing Outreach initiative (GTHO), which the Business Journal reported on in October.

Of 48 people so far identified by GTHO from an initial goal of rehousing 30 adults and 30 youths, 36 have service plans underway and are working with Community Rebuilders to secure long-term homes. Two dozen already have moved into temporary housing where their basic needs can be met with more scheduled to move in the coming weeks.

This is the first phase of an initiative to help solve homelessness in the city of Grand Rapids one geographic area at a time. Partnering with the city’s Homeless Outreach Team, Community Rebuilders is coordinating a network of local, cross-sector agencies to provide resources, such as short-term accommodations and any necessary support services.

Vera Beech Courtesy Community Rebuilders

“Calling this year ‘hard’ doesn’t do it justice, and that’s especially true for our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Vera Beech, executive director of Community Rebuilders. “We are so thankful to our partners who committed to doing something about it and (are) grateful for their speed and agility. This is an unprecedented undertaking in our city.”

GTHO employs an evidence-based approach to help individuals bypass long wait lists and access housing sooner. This is critical as cold weather sets in and essential for addressing the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency.

A majority of GTHO funding comes from the city of Grand Rapids’ dedicated Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“The need is serious. Winter is here, and many people have nowhere safe to go,” Beech said. “Plus, there’s the continued risk of COVID spreading among physically close communities. There’s a lot at stake, but this initiative is working. It’s proving what we already know: Homelessness is solvable.”

In 2020, Community Rebuilders helped 609 people across 352 households in Kent County move from homeless to housed. Initiatives such as GTHO are crucial to that work. The Rosa Parks Circle and Monroe Center pilot will inform and assist Community Rebuilders and the city of Grand Rapids in targeting future locations.

Biweekly program updates and a full partner list can be found online.

Community Rebuilders

Founded in 1993, Community Rebuilders aims to help build a community where homelessness is rare, brief and one time.

In 2019, Community Rebuilders provided 1,889 individuals with housing services in Kent County.

The agency was recognized in 2017 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness for its success in addressing veteran homelessness.

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