Community Rebuilders launches housing outreach program

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A nonprofit working to end homelessness connected eight people with housing in the first week of a new outreach program intending to house a total of 60 individuals within the next two months.

Grand Rapids-based Community Rebuilders said Tuesday its new program, Geographically Targeted Housing Outreach (GTHO), aims to help 30 youth and 30 adults find safe, affordable, permanent places to call home by the end of December.

Focusing on those staying in Rosa Parks Circle or Monroe Center downtown, Community Rebuilders connected eight people with housing resources in the program’s first seven days, three of whom moved immediately into housing.

The nonprofit said by taking a proactive approach, it can address urgent needs, bypassing long “waitlists to nowhere” for the city’s most vulnerable residents.

GTHO will work to help solve homelessness in Grand Rapids one geographic area at a time, Community Rebuilders said. It builds on the city of Grand Rapids’ commitment to ending homelessness in partnership with the city’s Homeless Outreach Team, and a network of local, cross-sector agencies are providing resources to support long-term housing stability.

Vera Beech Courtesy Community Rebuilders

“We strongly believe the best way to end homelessness is to help our neighbors find long-term housing as quickly as possible,” said Vera Beech, Community Rebuilders executive director. “GTHO protects the health and safety of everyone in the community while bringing back the intended purpose of the streets.”

Rosa Parks Circle and Monroe Center downtown were made first priority based on GTHO criteria to serve “a highly vulnerable youth population and adults experiencing chronic homelessness, persons susceptible to victimization, and business and residents’ goodwill,” among others. The area’s high traffic also amplifies COVID-19 concerns.

A majority of GTHO funding comes from the city of Grand Rapids’ dedicated Emergency Solutions Grants under the federal CARES Act.

After residents secure housing, they receive support to increase their income, connect with housing stability services and achieve their personal goals.

“If we aren’t talking to people who are staying on the street about housing, we’re having the wrong conversation,” Beech said. “Housing is the first step to addressing poverty, mental health, substance abuse and health-related needs. We are excited by the early success of GTHO and look forward to helping more of our community members reach their potential.”

Biweekly program updates and a full partner list can be found at communityrebuilders.org.

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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