A resource has been established in Kent County to help tenants with an eviction notice as well as the currently homeless. The service, which is known as the Housing Assessment Program (HAP), combines resources from local law firms, non-profits, and federal government grants in an effort to stop homelessness in the community.
Many of the agencies that focus on this need are also part of the Grand Rapids Area Coalition to End Homelessness. The resources that were created to help in this matter not only try to keep people in their homes, but the coalition will also try to advocate that affordable housing is available to everyone from the county. This is especially true for the over 4,000 currently homeless people in Kent County Michigan.
There are a few main components to eviction prevention in the area. They include rapid re-housing; emergency homeless prevention; case-management; and legal support. This will always be provided with other support around employment as well as budgeting.
The Coalition, including agencies such as the United Way and Salvation Army, created this referral line in order to provide information. Any type of housing issue can be covered by HAP, whether it is a landlord sending a pay or quit notice to a recently evicted family seeking a shelter. IT also mandates case management for the applicant.
There is also information on some of the HUD more “specialty” type programs. Callers to the referral line can learn about the following.
Emergency eviction help can sometimes be provided from HAP affiliated organizations. While it is possible, anyone that is struggling should truly seek help as soon as they think they may miss a rent or heating bill payment. Anyone in Kent County that waits will put themselves more at risk as their options at that time are further limited.
While they do not offer direct financial help to residents, the Grand Rapids Area Coalition to End Homelessness helps coordinate the other services in the area. They are a source of applications to the Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) program (which non-profits apply too) and many other resources. The coalition partners with many social service providers to help break the cycle of evictions.
One key participant in the coalition is the Salvation Army Social Services. They have housing specialists at their Grand Rapids office that coordinate support for low income families. They focus on families with children, whether they are married or single mothers/fathers. All information on their eviction prevention services are provided as part of the Housing Assessment Program.
Other key partners are the Grand Rapids Bar Association as well as the Legal Assistance Center. These locations have full time attorneys, volunteers, and paralegals that examine the eviction letter from a legal perspective. They can contest invalid ones, or even arrange for medication or repayment plans on back rent. If the homelessness may be caused by utilities being shut off, the firms can also go over the heating and water service disconnection laws in Michigan.
Anyone applying for a grant or counseling needs proof of their hardship. They also need identification as well as information on the Social Security Number for each and every person living in the home. Other documentation needed may include proof of income, details on what caused the homelessness or eviction to take place, and more.
There is a screening process in place in order to request assistance for an eviction. For referrals to homeless prevention agencies in Kent County, dial 800-887-1107. If the tenant is qualified for HAP (or another resource) then they will be directed to the application site for more information.
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