Grand Rapids nonprofits striving to educate and guide homeowners

June is National Homeownership Month, which represents the benefits of homeownership and the opportunities to encourage future homeownership. Grand Rapids is home to a few nonprofit organizations that assist those who have questions about home ownership, want to pursue becoming homeowners, help current homeowners, and celebrate the goal of achieving homeownership.

Home Repair Services, with a counseling team covering Kent County and seven surrounding counties, provides services to both future and current homeowners.
Courtesy of ICCF
Alisa Flores, housing counseling and education manager, shares that some of their programs target low-income homeowners, but they work with anyone who fits the criteria of the various programs.

“We provide workshops for financial topics,” Flores says, “such as budgeting, credit, buying a home, fair housing, insurance, banking, student loans, among others, and these services are geared towards future homeowners or clients interested in working on their financial goals.”

Flores says that programs are available for current homeowners in Kent County, including a self-help kitchen remodeling program, basic health and safety repairs, and how-to repair workshops for the home.

Habitat for Humanity (HFH) of Kent County, known for bringing people together to build homes, communities, and hope, has served more than 800 families through home repairs, homeowner education and homeownership since it was founded in 1983.

HFH has an accelerated home ownership program for mortgage-ready households struggling to find affordable homes in Kent County. This year marks the celebration of the 500th Habitat Kent home built and 500th homeowner family.
Courtesy of ICCF

Courtesy of ICCF

Courtesy of ICCF

Courtesy of ICCF
ICCF Community Homes assists individuals and families in determining if homeownership is an appropriate next step. According to Berniz Constanza Terpstra, vice president of housing and family services, 438 graduates participated in classes to learn about home ownership and the process of purchasing homes.

“We invite mortgage lenders, community mortgage lenders, and realtors to teach a portion of the classes,” says Terpstra. She adds that ICCF has HUD-certified counselors and staff who also teach participants committed to meeting each month to walk through the process and act upon achieving home ownership.
Courtesy of ICCF
In-person, Zoom and self-paced class options are available to participants who are considered low-to-moderate income-based, with one-on-one counseling available to help them reach their home ownership goals.

Terpstra also credits United Way for providing funding for ICCF’s Individual Development Account program. “When a participant saves $1,000, it is matched at a 4:1 rate, matching it with $4,000 for the purchase of a home that could go towards down payment and closing costs.” Terpstra says that 71 households have achieved saving $1K through this program this past year.
Courtesy of ICCF
ICCF also holds celebration, which Terpstra says is a fun event celebrating families who purchase homes — something that is worth recognizing.

Below are upcoming events and a schedule of programs available through these organizations:

Home Repair Services
June 2023
Saturday, June 24th – Home Repair Services Free Hands-On DIY Workshop: Basic Drywall & Plastic Repair
Monday, June 26th – HRS Free Hands-On DIY Women’s Only Workshop – Home Maintenance
Tuesday, June 27th – HRS June Financial Capabilities Series (Online) – Session 1
Wednesday, June 28th – HRS Day – 44 Years of Impact!
Wednesday, June 28th – June Financial Capabilities Series (Online) – Session 2

July 2023
Wednesday, July 12th (via Zoom) – Free Online Money Matters Workshop: Budgeting and Setting Goals
Wednesday, July 19th (via Zoom) – Free Online Money Matters Workshop: Credit Basics
Wednesday, July 19th (via Zoom) – Free Online Money Matters Workshop: Buying a Home


Habit for Humanity
Website and phone number for homeownership program information:

ICCF Community Homes
June classes are closed; July classes are still open.

Shanika P. Carter is an author, freelance writer, editor, and adjunct communications instructor. She is also the Principal Consultant of The Write Flow & Vibe, LLC (, offering writing, editing, and content development services to a variety of clientele, including fellow authors and businesses. Shanika is the author of the book To Lead or Not to Lead, which was released in 2019.

Shanika recently returned to her hometown of Muskegon after spending over 11 years in Grand Rapids. A native of Muskegon Heights, she proudly professes her love for and affiliations with her fellow Muskegon Heights Tigers, MSU Spartans, GVSU Lakers, and Sorors of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated.

In her spare time, Shanika loves to travel, shop, and spend time with family and loved ones. A self-proclaimed movie buff, she loves most genres of movies (especially horror!) and music (especially Michael and Janet Jackson!).
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