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Grand Rapids will begin enforcing 'no camping' rule in city parks with opening of new emergency shelter

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Posted at 6:27 PM, Dec 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-16 18:44:30-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The City of Grand Rapids will begin enforcing its “no camping” rule once a new winter emergency shelter opens in the Heartside neighborhood for those experiencing homelessness.

The new facility, operated by Mel Trotter Ministries, provides overnight shelter and serves as a warming center during the day.

City spokesperson Steve Guitar says camping is not allowed in the city’s parks, but the rule wasn’t enforced until more shelter beds became available.

Outreach teams have been communicating with those camping in the park in advance to assist with their transition, Guitar said.

“The decision to do this now is because funds have been made available and will collaboration with community partners, new shelter capacity is available,” Guitar said. “It is also timely with increasing cold and unsafe winter weather.”

Mel Trotter’s CEO tells Fox 17 they hope to open the facility sometime this week after finishing set-up and securing the required occupancy permits.

A coalition, led by Mel Trotter Ministries and Guiding Light and including the City of Grand Rapids and Kris Elliott of Evergreen Companies, has leased space at 250 Ionia Ave. SW, a news release said Tuesday.

Experts say as many as 100 adults could be looking for housing every night in the coming winter months.

SEE MORE: Public-private coalition working on emergency homeless shelter in Heartside