We develop, support and promote solutions that reduce homelessness in our community and support individuals and families in need through City-wide initiatives and strategic partnerships.

Any individual or family who is experiencing housing instability (homeless or soon to be homeless) should call 2-1-1.

Philosophy & Mission

The City of Grand Rapids is committed to a Housing First approach, which is an evidence-based practice to quickly and successfully connect individuals and families experiencing homelessness to permanent housing without preconditions and barriers to entry, such as sobriety, treatment or service participation requirements (National Alliance to End Homelessness).

We are committed to developing, supporting and promoting solutions that create a direct impact in reducing homelessness and supporting individuals and families in need. We believe housing is the answer to homelessness demonstrated by our history of supporting homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing efforts. We also believe this is a community-wide effort that requires dedicated and results-oriented partnerships.

One key objective of our City’s Strategic Plan is to support efforts to ensure all residents have safe, stable and permanent housing.

The Homelessness Work Group launched in October 2020 as a function of the City’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The group has executive level-leadership and is an interdisciplinary team, authorized and empowered to act in emergency management mode. Executive staff from the following departments are represented: Grand Rapids Fire Department, Grand Rapids Police Department, Executive Office, Public Services, Code Compliance and Community Development.

Its mission is to protect health and safety and improve outcomes for homeless persons and our community by addressing immediate, emerging and systemic conditions made worse by COVID-19 with a goal to coordinate homelessness efforts in the city of Grand Rapids.

The Homelessness Work Group focuses on a three-phase action plan:

  • Immediate actions to mitigate impacts on persons experiencing homelessness, businesses and neighborhoods;
  • Mid-term actions to begin to address systemic issues both independently and with partners; and
  • Long-term actions to sustain an effective response to homelessness.

A Homelessness Coordinator position was created in fall 2020 to lead initiatives and strategies that support the mission and goals of the Homelessness Work Group and advance the City’s work in homelessness toward sustainable, evidence-based solutions. The City has traditionally been engaged in homelessness issues, but has committed through this role to address growing community concern about the health and safety of our unsheltered residents, the impacts on our business community and the direct and effective coordination of City services with community service providers.

The City of Grand Rapids has developed and supported community-based initiatives that assist individuals and families experiencing homelessness. This includes building partnerships with housing and homeless service providers to directly address this issue.

The following are examples of recent initiatives we have implemented and/or supported:

Our partnerships with community organizations and nonprofits are a key factor in reducing homelessness in our community. We invest federal grant funds annually to support homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing services.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, additional investments have supported street outreach efforts and increased emergency shelter capacity.

In April 2020, the City of Grand Rapids developed the Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) to provide COVID-19 education and mitigate its spread among persons experiencing homelessness. The team has transitioned to an ongoing, active homeless outreach unit. Its mission is “to preserve health and safety and improve outcomes for homeless persons and our community.” HOT provides a “boots on the ground” presence on a daily basis. The team canvasses the community to interact with unsheltered persons and engage with businesses and residents to resolve issues. It also works to build relationships with individuals experiencing homelessness to better assist them in obtaining services and connecting to housing solutions.

There are four members on the Homeless Outreach Team – two police officers and two fire personnel – who are under the supervision of the Grand Rapids Fire Department. A contract with Network180 has added two social workers and two addiction specialists to the team. HOT works in the community Monday through Saturday and only responds to issues related to street homelessness.

Click here to view the HOT Dashboard.

HOT can be reached about issues related to street homelessness at 616-456-4240 and via email at grhot@grcity.us. Click here for frequently asked questions about the Homeless Outreach Team.

Funding for City initiatives to reduce homelessness and address housing needs primarily comes from federal grant awards. The City of Grand Rapids’ Community Development Department allocates funds based on its Consolidated Housing and Community Development Plan in accordance with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

For full details on funding, find the Annual Action Plan under “Reports and Plans” on the Community Development page.

Our efforts are one part in a larger system in addressing housing and homelessness. We actively participate in the Grand Rapids Coalition to End Homelessness (CTEH) – a collaborative of more than 60 organizations, agencies, municipalities, and individuals who come together with the shared goal of ending homelessness.

The CTEH serves as the Grand Rapids/Wyoming/Kent County Continuum of Care (CoC) with specific responsibilities to comply with the HEARTH Act, the guiding legislation for US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding targeted to address homelessness.

For more information on the Continuum of Care, visit http://endhomelessnesskent.org/about/

The City of Grand Rapids is dedicated to advancing racial equity through key measures in its Strategic Plan.

Any individual or family who is experiencing housing instability (homeless or soon to be homeless) should call 211.

Homeless Outreach Team

The Homeless Outreach Team can be reached with issues related to street homelessness at 616-456-4240 and via email at grhot@grcity.us.

Housing and Urban Development

HUD Resources

Donate or Volunteer

If you are interested in donating or volunteering, please contact one of the local service providers in our community.