Grand Rapids Community Foundation has made a $600,000 program related investment or PRI—a low interest loan from its endowment—to the Kent County Land Bank Authority to help it acquire all 180 foreclosed properties in the City of Grand Rapids. The properties, once acquired will be re-sold as is with renovation plans provided by the buyer; would be sold to nonprofits for rehabilitation, will be renovated in a subsidized program and re-sold and the severely blighted houses will be torn down. The properties go up for auction in July.
This is the second PRI that the Community Foundation has made to the Kent County Land Bank Authority. The first, in April of 2012 is considered a success. “The Land Bank was able to acquire 44 properties, some were rehabbed, and others were sold to investors or private home owners. Through its work, the Land Bank was able to recoup the Community Foundation’s investment and reinvest in additional properties,” said Marcia Rapp, vice president of programs at the Community Foundation. “We’re pleased with what the Land Bank has done with the assets we’ve made available. Neighborhoods in Grand Rapids are better because of the work of the Land Bank.
“We are aware that there are people who believe that efforts of the Land Bank present an unfair advantage for acquiring properties and that it reduces tax revenue. However, we have found that local municipalities welcome the Lank Bank to acquire foreclosed properties, as they invest in renovations before selling the properties to tax-paying owners. The result is improved neighborhoods and upwards of $5 million of positive impact,” said Rapp.
The Community Foundation awarded grants to Friends of Grand Rapids Parks for $41,500 to purchase three acres adjacent to 4th Street Woods Park; $400,000 to Grand Rapids Public Schools to support students at Harrison Park School and Westwood Middle School by creating a culture that promotes post-secondary learning for all students and $40,000 to the Women’s Resource Center to enhance its programs with more diverse volunteers.