WUOMFM

Grand Rapids’ mayor wants new initiatives to support neighborhoods, affordable housing

Feb 2, 2016

Grand Rapids' Mayor Rosalynn Bliss meets with guests following her first state of the city speech Tuesday night.
Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The new mayor of Grand Rapids wants to make housing more affordable in Michigan's second-largest city. Mayor Rosalynn Bliss' first state of the city speech was Tuesday night.

Bliss talked about the hardships she faced growing up in a family of ten.

“Whether you’re a family of four or a family of ten, a senior, a blue-collar worker, a young professional; I want you to be able to live in our city and proudly call it your home,” Bliss said.

Bliss says she wants the city commission to evaluate the tools it has to do that. She’d like to see the city create a new fund with flexible ways to help with down payments and subsidized housing.

She also wants city hall to give a boost to neighborhood projects. She’d like to start a new fund to give mini grants to neighborhood improvement projects, like community gardens, parks, planning, events, sprucing up city-owned easements or creating public art. Any neighborhood could apply for the grants. But they’d have to raise enough money to match the city’s contribution.

“We could match those dollars with volunteer time, in-kind donations, a commitment for long-term maintenance. So the match can be a creative way, it doesn’t necessarily have to be monetary,” Bliss said.

Bliss said she’d love to see the city commission chip in $50,000 to $100,000 to start. But city commissioners would have to work through that as they hammer out a budget.  

Bliss also laid out ongoing goals to improve relations between city police officers and minorities. She’d like to foster a friendly business climate, especially for small startup businesses, create more equity between minority groups, and create a greener city landscape.

Listen below to our Stateside interview with Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss.