Affordable housing among 319 projects seeking to cut $127 million from Kent County stimulus funds

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Kent County on Friday released a catalog detailing 319 projects requesting a share of $127.6 million in COVID-19 stimulus funding the county received under the American Rescue Plan Act ( ARPA).

The proposals run the gamut from affordable housing developments to infrastructure and education projects to arts and entertainment proposals.

In addition, 13 county department internal priorities have also been added to the list. Together, funding requests total approximately $2 billion, far exceeding the amount of dollars available.

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A high-profile project that submitted an application but was deemed ineligible based on federal rules was a downtown soccer stadium. The Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority has requested assistance for the $125 million stadium project.

Guidehouse, a group of consultants hired by the county to help review the applications, classified the football stadium and 55 other applications ineligible for funds because they did not meet federal guidelines on how ARPA funds should be used. disbursed, Kent County spokeswoman Lori Lathem said.

ARPA funds provided to local governments were created to cover uses such as responding to the negative economic impacts of the pandemic, to provide a bounty for essential workers, to invest in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure, and to fund services that would otherwise be at risk due to lost revenue, according to the National League of Cities, an advocacy group.

“It wasn’t there before, it hasn’t had any issues or cuts,” Lathem said, explaining why the football stadium was deemed ineligible for funds.

The county expects to finalize the projects that will receive funding by late November or early December, she said. The county board of commissioners has scheduled a business session for Oct. 14 to discuss the funds, as well as a special evening council meeting to vote on the funding for Nov. 14.

“We thank everyone who participated in our community engagement process and submitted a funding proposal,” Kent County Board of Commissioners Chairman Stan Stek said in a statement. “It has been a privilege to learn more about the effective ways organizations are helping our residents and our community.”

Lathem noted that the $2 billion value of the proposals is the total cost of all the projects. Some proposals only ask for a portion of their overall costs, so the true value of the funding requested is still being determined, she said.

In addition to eligibility, projects were ranked according to their feasibility, sustainability and impact.

Another noteworthy request came from the Kent County Permanent Housing Coordinating Council. In the proposal, Ryan VerWys, CEO of ICCF Community Homes, requested $42 million to help create 211 permanent housing units available to low-to-moderate income residents in the area. The total price of the project is $140.6 million.

In addition to permanent housing, VeryWys’ request for funding would help renovate or preserve 322 affordable rental units, provide top-up financing for 64 affordable rental units, and provide home repair assistance to 1,000 homeowners.

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