GRAND RAPIDS — The City of Grand Rapids, Mel Trotter Ministries, and Guiding Light Mission are working together to secure safe, overnight shelter for the homeless in the Heartside district.
They have also teamed up with Kris Elliott of Evergreen Companies to lease a space located at 250 Ionia Avenue SW in downtown Grand Rapids to accommodate up to 100 adults over the next several months.
The space, which formerly housed Purple East, is already being renovated into a warming center to help the homeless.
“I am happy for the city to be a partner in this project,” said Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington. “It is not safe for people to live on the streets and in our parks. Expanding emergency shelter and providing a warm place during the day will ensure the safety of our most vulnerable residents."
Organizers say Mel Trotter Ministries will manage day-to-day operations at the new warming center. It will also work with individuals who seek shelter to obtain permanent housing.
“Between the coming snows and COVID-19, those experiencing homelessness are more vulnerable than ever this year,” said Dennis Van Kampen, president and CEO of Mel Trotter Ministries. “This is compounded by an anticipated rise in evictions in the coming year, which will put even more people at risk on the streets. Safe affordable housing is increasingly difficult to come by in our community, let alone during these times. We are gratified by the willingness of the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to join together to address this immediate need.”
The City of Grand Rapids is providing rent support for the facility. Guiding Light is also providing direct financial support in addition to assistance with clothing, shoes, food, and personal care items, according to a press release.
“It is incumbent on all of us with means to ensure those without have the basics this winter – a warm, safe place to sleep, nutritious food to eat and the ability to keep themselves out of harm’s way from COVID-19,” said Stuart Ray, executive director of Guiding Light. “When no one organization owns a problem, nothing gets done – and winter is almost upon us. We lend our full support to this coalition of compassionate community partners who have stepped in to care for those living at the margins of society. They are our neighbors – and they deserve to be treated as such.”