Kent County Land Bank's future in question

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Kent County resource may be chopped shortly before its eighth anniversary.

On Thursday, the Kent County Board of Commissioners  will decide the fate of InnovaLaB, also known as the Kent County Land Bank Authority.

The program was set review in 2020, but county documents reveal that mounting concerns pushed the review up to this year.

"The potential threat of losing that is really quite serious and concerning," said Jeremy DeRoo, executive director of LINC UP in Grand Rapids, which aims help struggling families find stable, affordable housing.

DeRoo explained the county land bank has torn down obstacles to their mission, like expensive remediation of foreclosed properties.

"The Kent County Land Bank has played a pivotal role in helping to revert vacant properties into owner-occupied structures, which is something that is often difficult to do," DeRoo said.

"Before the land bank existed, almost half the properties that were bought for cash foreclosure at auctions ended up back on the tax auction within five years," DeRoo claimed.

If county commissioners vote to end an intergovernmental agreement Thursday, the land bank will dissolve over the next year.

They could create another land bank with changes.

"This is not an easily replicable process," said DeRoo.

24 Hour News 8 reviewed county documents which lay out concerns. Among them was whether the organization has expanded too much, called “mission creep.”

View the full story on Wood TV 


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