More and more markets are being affected by the high cost of housing and taking measures to find innovative solutions. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, a recent hot spot for population growth, the housing need is intensifying. The Frey Foundation is trying to manage price escalation with a generous grant.

With a proposed grant of up to $150,000, the Frey Foundation joins a growing list of organizations looking to spur creative housing solutions around West Michigan.

The Grand Rapids-based grantmaking organization proposed the funding in late September with the hopes of bringing about “housing innovation” for the roughly one-quarter of the Kent County population defined as “asset limited, income constrained, employed” (ALICE), a measure of a region’s so-called working poor.

“What we want to do is help our ALICE population with housing,” Frey Foundation President Holly Johnson told MiBiz.

Johnson and other housing advocates around the region say that segment of the population requires a significant boost in access to housing. They largely make more than the federal government allows for subsidies, but the existing dynamic of limited inventory and rising prices leaves them with few options they can afford.

The Frey Foundation saw working on new housing solutions as a natural step, given the wide range of other community partners already involved in the space, Johnson said.

“We have so many capable players in our community who are working toward the same thing,” Johnson said. “If we can kind of jump on and continue what a lot of other really good people are already doing, then we just think we might be able to accomplish some of our goals even quicker.”

The Frey Foundation in the past has offered housing grants, but the program marks a novel step for the organization.

“It’s definitely a first that we’re putting a bid out there and kind of doing prize philanthropy, to see what kind of innovation, what kinds of partners can we link up, and also using this opportunity to just learn what partners we’re maybe not aware of who are actively playing and making good strides in this space,” she said.

The Frey Foundation issued the call for ideas around new housing innovations on Sept. 21. The deadline to respond extends to the end of this month, with an award being announced by the end of the year, according to the Frey Foundation.

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