December 31, 2022

HSA Summary – December 2022

December 2022 Meeting Summary and Network Next Steps

The Housing Stability Alliance (HSA) gathered virtually on December 9, 2022. Goals included: 1) provide an overview of the HSA and Housing Kent, 2) affirm progress reports from the four action teams, and 3) collaborate on how the HSA might approach advocacy and build stronger partnerships with the business community. Seventy-four people were in attendance.

President Eureka People opened the meeting with a review of our shared vision – that every person in Kent County should be stably housed—or better. In order to ensure that, the HSA will focus on increasing affordable housing, dissolving homelessness, and eliminating the racial disparities in the housing system. Eureka also identified specific and measurable goals tied to those objectives and described the Path to Housing Stability, with its distinct stages across the housing continuum. She included a review of the new structure that was rolled out in September that centers on lived experience and includes a leadership council, system conveners, and action teams. She also introduced the Housing Kent staff.

The floor was then turned over to Adisa Chaney, Senior Director of Community Engagement & Equity, and Alex Kontras, Senior Director of Data & Policy, to provide an introduction of the action teams that formed after the September meeting. The following action team representatives presented team charters, progress to date, and upcoming activities:
• Bo Torres, Strong Beginnings-Healthy Start, Community Engagement Action Team
• Gustavo Perez, Kent County, Eviction Prevention Action Team
• Francisco Calderon, Family Promise, Data & Shared Measurement Action Team
• Brooke Oosterman, Housing Next, Policy & Advocacy Action Team

To read more on the action team charters and progress, click here. The HSA affirmed and supported the direction of each of the action teams.

Following the progress report, Eureka introduced Connie Bohatch, Managing Director of Community Services for the City of Grand Rapids. Connie walked the HSA through the process of how a petition becomes an ordinance. This explanation was requested in light of the December 6 city commission meeting where business leaders petitioned the city for new ordinances pertaining to homelessness and public safety. The petition would impact those residents who are currently unhoused and may not be utilizing shelter space. There were great questions asked of Connie, and she made it clear that the city currently has plans to focus on the ordinances in place, and have not assigned any staff to work on the petition that was proposed. The city would also like to have additional conversations with HSA conveners, Housing Kent, and business leaders. This content aligns with our policy and advocacy work.

Small Group Sessions

In small group sessions, discussions were held to give feedback on the progress reports given by each action team and to identify which activities the HSA would like to see prioritized. They also shared how they would contribute to the success of the teams.

A second small-group session then focused on collaborating on solutions the HSA might offer business leaders that could help them be more effective in addressing some of the challenges they have experienced with individuals who were unhoused. It is the hope of the HSA that a stronger partnership with businesses develops to improve outcomes for those most impacted and avoid petitions like the one recently submitted. The small group analysis of all of the feedback will be sent out to the HSA in January.

Next Steps

At the conclusion of the convening, members were encouraged to consider being part of one of the action teams. They were also asked to continue giving any other comments or thoughts to Housing Kent related to the action team progress reports and the discussion on how we can improve collaboration with the business community.

Meanwhile, Housing Kent will coordinate and facilitate action teams, work with the city to ensure the HSA has a copy of the city commission process, and partner with the United Way in convening businesses and other stakeholders to develop solutions with the HSA. And of course, we’ll keep listening!

Housing our community is the responsibility of all of us. Please consider joining us to help build this coalition to make Kent County a model for a fair and stably housed community. Thank you for being part of this work.

Housing Kent Action Team Contacts

Adisa Chaney, Sr. Director of Community Engagement & Equity
Action Teams: Community Engagement and Eviction Prevention
Phone: (616) 358-9935

Alex Kontras, Sr. Director of Data & Policy
Action Teams: Data & Shared Measurement and Policy & Advocacy
Phone: (616) 358-9934