GRAND RAPIDS, MI — The Housing Commission of Grand Rapids has received national recognition for innovation at its apartment building at 901 Division South.

The award is given by the National Association of Housing and Remodeling Officials. He credits the housing commission for the innovative design of his newest building. FOX 17 took a look inside before its official opening last fall.

For resident Cynthia Gaston, affordable housing is the greatest blessing of all.

“I was pretty much homeless,” Gaston told FOX 17.

Gaston lived with her child in Beatley, Michigan, a two-hour drive from her hometown of Grand Rapids, on the verge of homelessness.

Her name was then drawn for a place at Antoine Court. At first she was nervous. Her children were too.

But after calling Antoine Court “home” since November, she says the apartment complex has exceeded her expectations.

“At first my children said: where do you live? I said, “Division and Delaware.” I will be in the building. I won’t go out.” Because they were worried about my safety in the area. But it’s actually not a bad neighborhood at all,” Gaston said.

Instead, Gaston says she found a community in the complex that she never had anywhere else. On Friday, she attended a “Coffee with Christie” hosted by another resident and had a slice of chocolate cake with her great-grandson.

“I like living in a community like this,” Gaston said.

Once a week, the Southeast Market delivers fresh fruit and vegetables to residents. According to Head of Residence Joyce Williams, this is just one example of the many partnerships being developed at Antoine Court.

“We have all walks of life,” Williams said.

Williams works to create programs for residents. Meeting the need for housing is the first, most basic human need. After that, they focus on financial education and other forms of support.

“There is a need for housing at all levels. We know it as a community. That’s why a lot of these groups are being formed to understand what those gaps are,” said Grand Rapids Housing Commission President Monica Steimle-Up.

The Housing Commission is conducting research eliminate problems and gaps but says it all comes down to partnering with the community.

“It’s not as simple as developing, building a building, filling it. We need to be innovative,” Steimle-App said.

Innovative and needed. There is currently a waiting list at the address Antoine Court and all GRHC properties. Gaston says: serve, serve, serve.

“Go on and just believe. That’s what I did,” Gaston said after waiting 20 years to get her affordable housing voucher.

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