When the weather gets colder and the snow hits the ground, staying outside can become dangerous, very quickly. But Grand Rapids has a large community of homeless residents who cannot afford to escape the freezing winter.
The City of Grand Rapids Commission is partnering with Mel Trotter Ministries to help resolve this issue. The Commission approved a $ 330,000 agreement to upgrade and expand existing overnight shelters.
âWe have more room for support for this because the truth is this shelter is not in Mel Trotter’s budget, but we know we have to do it because we feel responsible for making sure that anyone seeking shelter in the winter finds it, âsaid Chairman and CEO of Mel Trotter Ministries, Dennis Van Kampen.
This agreement will help increase access to overnight shelters, include storage areas for personal effects and manage day-to-day operations. In addition, the shelter will be âlow barrierâ, which means that some rules relating to traditional shelters will be removed and more accommodation will be made.
They will also add laundry facilities and quiet rooms. In addition, the ministry will offer a range of programs and services that they believe will help their guests escape homelessness.
“We will provide storage space for all those who are on the street and have no place to store their things, even if they do not spend the night here,” said Van Kampen. âWe will have lockers and bins where they can put their things so they don’t have to carry them everywhere. It’s new this year and we are delighted with it.
Lockers allow customers to have a locked space to put their belongings that traditional shelters do not offer. There will also be a personal effects storage program as the pilot facility. The program will provide secure storage carts in a secure and supervised area.
The Grand Rapids Homeless Awareness Team (HOT) was the group that pioneered the idea of ââadding storage. As an organization that regularly interacts with the homeless population, it has realized that storing property is a huge problem for people who have nowhere to go.
Having to leave things unattended makes many people uncomfortable, whether they are housed or not. It discourages people from going to work, going indoors, or even staying in shelters that have no room for them. The ministry hopes the addition of secure storage will change that.
This shelter will accommodate 75 to 100 people at a time and the city is working with Mel Trotter Ministry to ensure there is enough space and beds for all residents. The installation will also encourage (â¦) more people not only to enter, but to stay as long as they need.
“What happened last year with the pandemic, we knew that in winter due to social distancing there would not be enough space for anyone who wanted shelter during the winter” , said Mel Trotter Ministries Chief Executive Officer Dennis Van Kampen. “So we had to go in search of an overflow shelter.”
The new space is already under construction and is expected to open in the first two weeks of December. In order to be closer to those who need it most, the location of the shelter will be 200 S. Division Ave. near Cherry Street in downtown Grand Rapids.