Homeless shelters around Grand Rapids full

Posted at 5:43 PM, Dec 12, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-12 18:25:07-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.--More than 12,000 people are homeless in Michigan right now, up six percent from last year alone. That's according to the most recent report from the U.S. Department of Housing.

The woman who came to us for help asked us not to show her face and change her voice. She recently left an abusive relationship. For two weeks a church helped pay for a hotel, now that time is up, and she's out of options.

"I know why women go back to their abusers for that safety net," she said. "I've called Safe Haven, literally for the past three weeks. I've called WICA, the top ones you're supposed to call if you're an abused woman, Degage, all the shelters they give you lists for and there's just nothing. 'Sorry we don't have a bed available, sorry we don't have a bed available, call tomorrow.'"

So we also made calls in search of a place for her to stay tonight and got the same response each time, too. But her story is similar to dozens of others across the state and even the country.

"You just don't know what to do. You feel like you're backed into a corner with nowhere to turn."

"There is a shortage of the safety net places for people to stay in emergency. For tonight and most nights, we're full," said Marge Palmerlee.

Palmerlee says Degage Ministries can house just 40 women each night, and most of the time those spaces are spoken for early in the morning. She's been the executive director at the shelter for 17 years and says unfortunately the homeless situation statewide has only grown worse.

"I think we are seeing it start earlier and it's more severe, but there is just a real shortage of beds in our community," Palmerlee said.

So where does someone turn when all the shelters are full?

"We encourage them to try and stay with a friend or family member until we're able to get them into one of the shelters," Palmerlee said.

There are several shelters just outside of Grand Rapids that do have available beds.