With snow and colder temperatures moving in this week, the City of Grand Rapids has announced a partnership to further help those experiencing homelessness during the winter months.

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According to a release, on Nov. 9, the Grand Rapids City Commission moved to support a $330,000 agreement with Mel Trotter Ministries to expand access to overnight shelter, day center accommodations, and availability of storage for personal belongings for unhoused residents. The funds will help support facility leasing and operation costs.

The City’s portion of funding, covering one-fourth of the shelter and day center costs for six months and one year of storage program operations, will be from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

Connie Bohatch, managing director of City Community Services, said,

We are happy to partner again with Kent County, Guiding Light and Mel Trotter Ministries to ensure appropriate bed capacity is available and there is a warm, dry place to be during the day over the winter months.

The facility at 200 S. Division will operate as low barrier, which means that some traditional shelter rules are removed to encourage more people to come indoors, including providing lockers to secure legal items, and providing accommodations for couples.

The shelter is also starting a storage program in which guests and others will have access to secured carts to keep their belongings in a safe place. The idea came from the City’s Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) who interact with unhoused residents on a daily basis, and found lack of storage to be an obstacle for some going into shelter or going to work and would help keep the city clean.

Mel Trotter staff are currently making necessary improvements to the facility on S. Division, which is expected to open by Dec. 1.

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