City wins $150,000 award to advance housing affordability solutions

Published on January 25, 2021


U.S. Conference of Mayors and Wells Fargo CommunityWINS Grant Program recognizes Grand Rapids and Community Rebuilders

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The City of Grand Rapids is one of eight recipients of the 2021 CommunityWINS® grant program, a joint effort by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Wells Fargo to advance housing affordability solutions in local communities. The awards recognize outstanding mayoral-based initiatives that assist their city in reducing the cost burden of housing and increase access to safe, affordable places to live.

The grants totaling $1 million recognize outstanding mayoral-nominated initiatives that assist their city in reducing the cost burden of housing and increase access to safe, affordable places to live. Each nonprofit will receive funding aimed at assisting cities with the opportunity to invest, strengthen, and address housing affordability issues in municipalities across the United States.

In recognition of its partnership with Community Rebuilders, the City will receive $150,000 to support Community Rebuilder's innovative G.R.A.C.E. Smart Homes project. In partnership with Linc Up, Community Rebuilders will use the funds to develop affordable housing that intentionally addresses the link between housing and health through the creation of “service smart” rental housing.

“It is an honor to be recognized for our work with Community Rebuilders on such an important issue. In Grand Rapids, we have prioritized investment in solutions that will ensure safe and affordable housing for our residents,” said Mayor  Rosalynn Bliss.  “This CommunityWINS Grant will allow us to expand that important work and increase access to Community Rebuilders for more who need it. We are deeply grateful to Wells Fargo and the U.S. Conference of Mayors for putting a spotlight on the housing crisis facing cities across the country, and we are hopeful that more solutions like ours will continue to scale to bring greater relief to Americans in need.”

Community Rebuilders has been working diligently to place homeless families and individuals in housing for over 25 years. The organization focuses on housing as the solution to homelessness and works to address Social Determinates of Health to ultimately make homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring. Community Rebuilders provides housing and services each year that result in hundreds of individuals and families moving from homelessness to stable housing. Its programs serve homeless youth, individuals, families, chronically homeless households, and veterans.

 “We are pleased to partner with the City and thank Mayor Bliss for nominating our program. This joint effort with the City and LINC UP will put our G.R.A.C.E. homes project on the grid. This project will address Social Determinants of Health through innovative affordable housing,” said Vera Beech, Executive Director of Community Rebuilders, “ We believe housing is the solution to homelessness. Increasing access to safe, affordable and stable housing in our community is essential to this solution.”

“Collaboration is vital to solving the major crises of our time. LINC UP is proud to have strong partnerships with Community Rebuilders and the City of Grand Rapids that will lead to significant innovation in housing,” said Jeremy DeRoo, Executive Director at LINC UP. “Creating affordable housing is a national imperative, and we are excited to find innovative ways to develop affordable housing while reducing the cost of construction.”

LINC UP believes that neighborhoods matter and that where you start contributes to where you go. The organization works to connect residents to resources by connecting who you know, what you know, where you live, and what you make. Placing a specific emphasis on race-based and place-based strategies, LINC UP has been putting equity into action for 20 years by increasing community power through advocacy and expanding affordable housing through development and policy change.

Grand Rapids was honored alongside Denver, CO; Anchorage, AK; Frankfort, KY; Chicago, IL; Newark, NJ; Brownsville, TX; and Waterville, ME.

“The 2020 CommunityWINS Grant Program is an opportunity to honor and showcase impactful affordable housing efforts that are making a real difference in communities across the country,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and executive director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. “We appreciate Wells Fargo and the Wells Fargo Foundation for their support of the CommunityWINS program, which also celebrates the leadership of mayors and city governments.”

An independent panel of judges selected recipients of the grants funded by Wells Fargo from 139 applicants representing small, medium, large and metropolitan cities as part of the competitive application process. The awards were presented virtually at the Conference’s 89th Winter Meeting.

The CommunityWINS grant program is administered by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and funded by Wells Fargo.

“Even prior to the economic fallout caused by COVID-19, many vulnerable households were struggling with housing solutions,” said Nate Hurst, president of the Wells Fargo Foundation. “To foster a truly inclusive recovery, we have to recognize that the challenge of housing is even more profound in communities of color and be intentional about prioritizing the needs of underserved communities. CommunityWINS is an important example of the public and private sectors working together to help more people have a safe, affordable place to call home.”

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