New City Service offers Rental Readiness Program for Low Income Families

The Rental Readiness Program is available to low-income Grand Rapids households that have applied for rental housing and have been denied by the landlord. The program is administered by the Grand Rapids Housing Commission (GRHC) and is free of charge.

The household whose rental application was denied completes and submits the online Rental Readiness Application form.


GRHC staff* process each applicant’s paperwork, obtain and analyze the applicant’s credit report, and assess barriers to rental readiness. The applicant is invited to a private consultation to develop a Rental Readiness Plan. Some households are referred to employment services, with the goal of developing the resources that make rental housing more affordable. Others may be referred to Rental Readiness Workshops that can help them overcome barriers to renting. The GRHC partners with the Inner City Christian Federation (ICCF), the Grand Rapids Urban League, West Michigan Works! and other service agencies to provide this assistance.

*The staff who process applications possess a Master of Social Work degree as well as years of experience helping families overcome barriers to housing.

Rental Readiness Workshops are offered both at the Rental Assistance Center and at various off-site locations. Households become certified as “rental ready” by completing workshops on such topics as…

  • Employment and income
  • Résumé building
  • Credit and budgeting
  • How to be a good tenant
  • What landlords look for in a tenant
  • The housing search process
  • Tenant and landlord rights and responsibilities

GRHC staff work with each household to create a portfolio of the documents needed to complete rental applications.

By attending workshops and eliminating barriers to renting, the household earns a Rental Readiness Certificate that’s valid for 90 days. The Certificate and Rental Readiness portfolio give the household a competitive advantage in a tight rental market by demonstrating to prospective landlords that the family is qualified and ready to rent.

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