Shalom in the Neighborhood
Many Calvin students will choose to live off-campus at some point during their time at Calvin, whether it be in Project Neighborhood homes or as renters in Grand Rapids communities. This presents a learning opportunity, a chance to consider how the lordship of Christ extends to how we live and where we live. As part of a Reformed Christian community, we are called to "seek the welfare of the city" (Jer. 29:7). Living off-campus, students will have the opportunity to live intentionally and faithfully in community: establishing and maintaining good relationships with neighbors, serving the needs of others, and experiencing the joy of being part of a neighborhood. But seeking the welfare of the city also involves sensitivity to others' needs and concerns, which translates into practical matters such as heeding noise levels and parking issues, honoring agreements with landowners, and observing city ordinances that address community welfare. The latter include residency limits: in Grand Rapids, no more than four unrelated people may reside at a given residence; Kentwood ordinances are based on square footage (check with your landlord). As "salt and light" to our world, all members of the Calvin College community are called to be good neighbors by observing these obligations.
The college will take the following steps in support of our surrounding cities and neighbors:
- The Student Conduct Code specifically lists living in compliance with applicable zoning ordinances for occupancy as an expectation for all Calvin students living off-campus. Ordinances vary by municipality, so students are expected to work closely with landlords to ensure compliance.
- The college requires an accurate and current local address for all students living off campus. Each fall semester, all off-campus residents will be required to electronically register their local addresses. Failure to submit this address by Friday, September 16 will result in a $50 late fee. If by Friday, September 30 this is still unresolved, an additional $50 late fee (hence, $100 total) will be added to the student’s account, as well as having a financial “hold” placed on the account. The hold will be lifted once a student reports a local address.
Furthermore, students must verify via digital signature their “compliance” or “non-compliance” with applicable zoning ordinances on occupancy (e.g. no more than four unrelated adults may reside in most residential housing units in the city of Grand Rapids; Kentwood zoning is based on square footage and number of bedrooms; etc.). If students are unable to honestly confirm compliance, they will have the opportunity to explain their housing situation on the form. The college will do its best to work with students who are truthful, even if admitting non-compliance.
- Students found to be living in violation of applicable zoning ordinances will be subject to any or all of the following:
A. A fine of $250 per student, per semester, will be levied until the situation is verifiably resolved. Note: this fine is independent of any action the city may take against occupants or landlords, and in no way exempts students from the requirements of applicable local ordinances.
B. A letter of non-compliant housing will be filed in the student’s college record.
C. The college will affirm addresses if requested by city authorities who are formally investigating specific violations of occupancy ordinances.
D. Apart from any current or future college response, students face consequences from city authorities as defined in zoning ordinances, including evictions and other civil penalties for non-compliance.
- Students who provide false information during the local address and compliance/non-compliance registration process will be subject to further disciplinary action by the college.
For further information read the FAQ
Grand Rapids Housing Policies
- Students should properly care for their property, which includes snow removal within 24 hours of snowfall and yard care. This is not only an ordinance but a way to be a good neighbor on your street.
- Students should be responsible for properly disposing their trash and recycling. The city of Grand Rapids has weekly trash pick-up and bi-weekly recycling.
- Students should limit on-street parking and obey all posted parking restrictions within their neighborhoods.
- Students should be aware of their noise levels in their neighborhoods. Disturbance of the peace is prohibited 24 hours each day.
- Students may only sleep in rooms deemed as legal bedrooms that are safe. Rooms must have two points of egress, finished surfaces and have a closet.