Coalition to Provide Emergency Shelter for Heartside Residents

Public-Private Partnership Addresses Needs for Safe, Secure Overnight Lodging

Demonstrating compassion this winter

We're so proud to announce that we, along with other location organizations, have leased space at 250 Ionia Ave. SW in downtown Grand Rapids to accommodate what experts are saying could be as many as 100 adults nightly seeking housing in the coming months. Work has begun to transform the space into a warming center and overnight shelter for those experiencing homelessness, many of whom are currently staying in tents in Heartside Park and other locations around the city.

This will require extra funds to offset the costs of rent, utilities and refurbishment to ensure the 30,000 square-foot facility is ready before the snow flies. Tax-free donations can be made online to Mel Trotter Ministries or Guiding Light. 

Give a financial gift today

As we prepare for the harsh winter weather and COVID-19, MTM along with community, nonprofit and business leaders have joined to provide a safe emergency shelter for those experiencing homelessness in the Heartside neighborhood. This shelter comes with additional expenses. Please consider a tax-free gift today.

Your gift will demonstrate the compassion of Jesus Christ all winter long.

Coalition to Provide Emergency Shelter for Heartside Residents

Public-Private Partnership Addresses Needs for Safe, Secure Overnight Lodging

Grand Rapids, Michigan, (December 15, 2020) – As West Michigan prepares for winter, a coalition of community, nonprofit and business leaders has joined forces to provide safe emergency shelter for residents of the Heartside neighborhood who are experiencing homelessness.

An alliance 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 in downtown Grand Rapids to accommodate what experts are saying could be as many as 100 adults nightly seeking housing in the coming months. Work has begun to transform the space, which is the former Purple East tobacco shop, into a warming center and overnight shelter for those experiencing homelessness, many of whom are currently staying in tents in Heartside Park and other locations around the city.

“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.”

The public-private partnership is seeking funds to offset the costs of rent, utilities and refurbishment to ensure the 30,000 square-foot facility is ready before the snow flies. Tax-free donations can be made online to Mel Trotter Ministries or Guiding Light.

“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.”

Mel Trotter Ministries, which currently has capacity to house 425 individuals nightly, will manage day-to-day operations at 250 Ionia. It will also work with individuals who seek shelter to obtain permanent housing, just as the nonprofit does with those who chose to stay at MTM.

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.

“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.”

The building is being prepared to accommodate those in need, with the hope to have the overflow space operational by the end of the week. “We are happy to offer our property to Mel Trotter in an effort to get folks off the street and out of the parks in downtown Grand Rapids and assist the organization in the endless work it does for those experiencing homelessness in our community,” said Elliott, owner of Evergreen Companies.

About Mel Trotter Ministries

Established in 1900, Mel Trotter Ministries exists to demonstrate the compassion of Jesus Christ, through rescue and restoration for anyone experiencing hunger and homelessness. MTM seeks to help end homelessness and walk with people on their faith journey. For more information about Mel Trotter Ministries, visit www.meltrotter.org or call 616-588-8792.

About Guiding Light

Founded in 1929 as the West Fulton St. Mission, Guiding Light has grown into a robust recovery and re-engagement community designed to help those living at society’s margins fulfill their God-given potential. The nonprofit has been building on a near century of compassion and celebrated 90 years of serving Grand Rapids in 2019. Through its Back to Work, Recovery and Iron House programs, Guiding Light works with men struggling with addiction and homelessness to return to society. Since 2017, Guiding Light has earned a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar, which underscores our commitment to accountability and transparency. For more information, visit guidinglightworks.org.

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