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Neighborhood concerned about felons who are also Calvin University students moving in

Posted at 6:21 PM, Nov 11, 2021

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Three men convicted of violent crimes like murder could be moving to a Breton Village neighborhood.

“We are convinced, it will be absolutely fine,” Calvin Prison Initiative Director Todd Coiffi said.

Neighbors shared their concerns about members of the Calvin Prison Initiative moving to the Breton Village area.

Nothing is set in stone yet. Director of the program Todd Coiffi says he hopes they can reach an understanding.

The home at 3151 Hampshire is owned by Calvin. It's been student housing in the past. Coiffi says these Calvin students may have a criminal record but they have a spotless track record since starting their program.

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“We understood that for folks who hear you’re putting felons, people who just got out of prison, in a house across the street from them or down the street from them or whatever the situation may be, this would obviously raise concern,” Coiffi said.

So, Coiffi went door-to-door to explain the idea to neighbors. Most understood, despite being apprehensive. For one person, it was a flat-out no.

“One gentleman was just very irate,” Coiffi said.

Calvin plans to host a town hall to discuss this with the neighborhood coming up in December. The soonest the members of the program would move in would be August 2022.

The Calvin Prison Initiative helps prisoners serving long sentences get degrees. The students living in the home on Hampshire would be attending class on the main campus, as they've already been doing. Coiffi says the close proximity to campus would make it easier for them to attend classes and have affordable housing.

They are out on parole. None of the 11 parolees who have attended classes on their main campus in the last two years have had any issues, according to Coiffi.

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