Collaborative System Approach Aims to Achieve Equitable Homeownership Opportunities for All
Housing Kent partners with Grand Rapids leaders and over 130 individuals and organizations to form the Housing Stability Alliance focused on solution-oriented housing access in Kent County, Michigan.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., May 2023 – Housing Kent, a non-partisan organization in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was established in 2021 to address housing inequalities through KConnect’s partnership with the Housing Stability Alliance (HSA). The HSA was formed in 2018 by a group of housing service providers in Kent County to increase affordable housing, dissolve homelessness, and eliminate racial disparities. As the backbone of HSA initiatives, Housing Kent leads the work by collecting and analyzing data, convening partners, and operationalizing the alliance's Common Agenda and Roadmap.
From the most recent U.S. census data, of counties similar in size, Kent County ranked the fifth worst for equitable homeownership with a 40-point percentage gap between Black and white households. The data also shows one out of every six African American children experiences homelessness in a given year while one in 160 white children has the same experience. Housing Kent has found that the housing crisis impacts all individuals in the county, particularly those in Black and brown communities. Housing Kent shared the 2021 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, which show the following homeownership rates:
White people: 76.7%
Black people: 35.4%
The gap between white and Black homeowners = 41.3%
Housing Kent president, Eureka People, takes a holistic approach to address housing in Kent County on the Housing Stability Continuum of “no housing” to “housed by choice.” For the system to have the greatest impact in the community, Housing Kent believes it will take everyone to be involved within their 2023 Strategic Framework goals of:
Telling the story of housing in Kent County
Help optimize the homeless system response
Redesign kent county eviction system
Develop and grow the HSA network
“No one organization or individual can change the entire housing system, this is marathon work,” People says. “This will not be solved overnight because we didn’t get here overnight. We need everyone to be part of the solution, particularly those who are most impacted by the current set of housing policies and structures. As we change the system, moving away from our silos, we can move Kent County from the bottom to the top when it comes to the homeownership gap, and that’s just one area of the system.”
The primary objective of Housing Kent is to ensure that all Kent County residents have access to safe and affordable housing, particularly for people of color, families with children, and individuals. Housing Kent partners with organizations across the housing continuum, including those that provide emergency shelter, transitional and supportive housing, crisis response to address essential needs like food, rental or utility assistance, or other wraparound support services. Additional partners include nonprofit and for-profit developers who are working to increase the housing supply across the county. These are long-term solutions that empower residents to make choices about their housing, which is part of the "Housed by Choice" movement, which aims to offer residents the freedom to choose their own housing journey.
Together, Housing Kent and over 130 individuals and organizations contributing to the Housing Stability Alliance will continue addressing the housing crisis on a systemic level toward a more equitable Kent County.
About Housing Kent
Housing Kent is a 501 (c)3 organization that supports the work of the Housing Stability Alliance, which is a network of 130 individuals and public and private organizations, working toward a housing system that works for all residents of Kent County. Housing Kent elevates, aligns, and coordinates multi-sector strategies to ensure that quality affordable housing can be a reality for all individuals, across all income levels. Housing Kent’s mission is to increase access to affordable housing, dissolve homelessness, and eliminate racial disparities in the Kent County housing system. To learn more about Housing Kent and their impact on housing instability, check out their website here: https://housingkent.org/