Skip to content

Grand Rapids City Officials voted to give tax breaks to a company that received millions in COVID relief funds, has exploited other tenants in GR, and called the GRPD when tenants tried to organize

September 7, 2022

On Tuesday, the Grand Rapids City Commission voted to give a tax break to the developers of a new housing project at the far southeast part of the city, on 43rd St. 

MLive had reported on this project on September 6th, noting that the City’s tax breaks are, “contingent upon the development receiving tax credits from the state.” 

This housing development project is supposed to be affordable, with about one third of the units “to be permanent supportive housing serving people who are experiencing homelessness or have a disability.” 

In addition, the MLive article also noted that the company developing this new housing project will be charging $667 up to $1,202 per month for a one bedroom apartment, and $801 up to $1,441 for a two bedroom. The lower end prices for both the one and two bedroom apartments might be feasible for those with disabilities and those who are transitioning from being unhoused, but after paying rent, it would not leave people with much for utilities, food, transportation, etc. 

One other important bit of information from the MLive story is that the company that will be developing this new “affordable housing” project, is a national company, Woda Cooper Companies.  In 2020, Woda Cooper Companies Inc, received $2,828,800 in PPP loans from the federal government because of COVID. Several months later that loan was forgiven. If Woda Cooper Companies Inc can benefit from nearly $3 Million of public money, they surely can afford to build houses without public subsidies.

Lastly, there have been numerous complaints about other Woda Cooper Company properties in Grand Rapids. The Grand Rapids Area Tenant Union met with tenants from Grand View Place Apartments last year and learned that there was all kinds of unfair and exploitative practices that the Woda Cooper Company was involved in. In fact, the tenants came up with the following demands:

  • Security/Safety – Hire an Independent Security Contractor for 24 hour security, as numerous residents have been assaulted on the property, have witnessed illegal activities and have been threatened by other tenants with bodily harm. 
  • Repairs/ general sanitation – Make necessary repairs that tenants have contacted management about in a timely fashion. In addition, the sanitation of the buildings is unacceptable, with urine, blood and even vomit in the hallways, stairways and elevator that is left for days. Management needs to make sure that common spaces are clear and sanitary at all times, but especially now with COVID.
  • Transparency and consistency with funds – residents have noted that they are being charged excessive rent fees, along with over-charging people who have a fixed rental fee. In addition, WODA Cooper Companies has not been transparent about the use of COVID relief funds they have received from the Federal Government.
  • NOISE Violation Enforcement – Tenants are demanding that management enforce noise violations, as numerous tenants have to constantly put up with unnecessarily loud noises at all times of the night, making it difficult to slept or have a sense of peace in their own space.
  • Stop threats of Eviction and Retaliation – Numerous tenants have been threatened with eviction or retaliation by management when they file a complaint about illegal drugs, prostitution, excessive noise or other security issues inside and on the apartment property. It is illegal to threaten or retaliate against tenants for wanting fairness and security where they are living.
  • MSHDA Oversight – Tenants would like to see the Michigan State Housing Development Authority have some oversight in management for the Grand View Place, which is owned by WODA Cooper Companies. This oversight would create more accountability and provide a sense of relief for tenants who have been mistreated and threatened over the past year. 

These are serious issues that tenants are facing at one of the many Woda Cooper Company’s properties in Grand Rapids. The tenants from the Woda Cooper Company-owned Grand View Place apartments, also organized a press conference to make their grievances public. The Woda Cooper Company staff were so threatened by the Press Conference, that they called the GRPD. Just minutes before the press conference was to take place, 5 separate GRPD cruisers showed up and one cop told the tenant union that if they chose to stay on the property of Grand View Place apartments, they would be arrested.

The Grand Rapids Area Tenant Union then wrote a letter to Grand Rapids City Officials, communicating their dismay at the fact that 5 GRPD cruisers showed up to prevent a press conference being organized by tenants who were standing up for their rights. Grand Rapids City Officials never responded to the letter, which you can read here.

To review, the Woda Cooper Company, which is set to receive tax breaks from the City of Grand Rapids; has received nearly $3 Million in PPP funds, which they never had to pay back; and has a history of mistreating and exploiting tenants; plus when tenants sought to organize they were threatened by the GRPD for holding a press conference. Who else thinks such companies shouldn’t receive any sort of tax breaks or public subsidies?

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: