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With their 2024 Budget the City of Grand Rapids once again prioritizes cops, business development and tourism over affordable housing

May 23, 2023

On Tuesday, the Grand Rapids City Commission adopted the 2024 City Budget, which according to their 2024 Budget document is a total of $634,553,651. To access budget information, go to this link, which provides the entire budget and a Resident’s Guide to the Budget, which is a much shorter document.

Interestingly enough, the headline that MLive posted on the 2024 City Budget reads, Affordable housing a priority with $644M Grand Rapids budget approval. After reading the headline I quickly read through the article to see how much affordable housing was a priority. The MLive article states: 

One focus area receiving additional money is the Affordable Housing Fund, which helps fund vetted affordable housing developments and homelessness prevention programs in the city. 

Roughly $5 million was allocated to the fund for the next fiscal year, which will boost the grand total to about $11.5 million.

This means that $5 million is being allocated for affordable housing in the 2024 Grand Rapids City Budget, which is the only number that is worth noting regarding the priorities of the 2024 Budget. If one thinks about what $5 Million means in regards to the $644 Million City Budget, then affordable housing is 0.78% of the total 2024 City Budget. Now, I’m not a math genius, but it seems to me that 0.78% of the City’s budget is hardly a priority.

Looking at this graph below which is from the City’s 2024 Resident’s Guide to the Budget, you can see which categories are the real priorities, like policing. 

GRIID pointed out the issue of priorities in an article we posted on May 15th, where we stated:

“During the May 9th Grand Rapids Committee of the Whole meeting, there were numerous 2024 budget items that were excepted without question, all of which centered around business development or business districts. Here is the breakdown for these 2024 budget items, which you can read in detail at this link. Number 7 on the Agenda for the May 9th Committee of the Whole meeting says:

Overview of FY2024 budgets for boards and authorities administered by the Economic Development Department and Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. with appropriation requests totaling $45,375,682.”

This means that the $45 Million is going to business districts, for improvements that will benefit the Business Community, along with continuing to emphasize making Grand Rapids a “destination place”, which means they want tourist dollars. Again, compared to only $5 Million for affordable housing, the business districts are significantly more of a priority than the intent to provide safe and quality housing for people who do not make a livable wage.

Lastly, it is worth noting that City Manager Mark Washington was quoted in the MLive article stating, “There’s often more challenges than there is funding. Those are tough choices we have to make and we continue to evaluate both resources as well as issues. I’m looking forward to the continued implementation of the budget.” Like a true politician, Washington laments the lack of funding, but the reality is that it’s not about how much money the City of Grand Rapids uses, it is always about priorities. In the 2024 City Budget, the City of Grand Rapids prioritizes funding for cops and businesses over affordable housing. 

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