75 beds: Mel Trotter unveils new overflow site

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Mel Trotter Ministries is preparing to open its new overflow shelter in downtown Grand Rapids.

The space will have a maximum capacity of 75 beds and will serve the area when the primary shelter is full.

Dennis Van Kampen, the CEO of the nonprofit, says the location at Division Street and Cherry Street Southeast has been under construction for the past two months.

Mel Trotter Ministries’ overflow shelter on S. Division Avenue in Grand Rapids. (Dec. 7, 2021)

“That has entailed so many contractors and our facilities team at Mel Trotter coming together to build bathrooms that are ADA accessible and to create a space that is welcoming and inviting,” Van Kampen said.

A mobile shower unit provided services at its previous overflow location, but the new space has one installed in the building. The site will also have storage space available.

The project cost around $500,000 to convert the space into a shelter and the organization has a one-year lease with options to extend.

Beth Fisher, Mel Trotter’s Chief Advancement Officer, says the space should meet the need this winter.

“We believe that based on what we learned last year during the pandemic that this will suffice for the need this year as well, but going forward we just hope to continue to help people out of their journey of homelessness,” Fisher said.

Heartside Ministries is relocating to the space and will also provide services.

“They have a day center so people can come in. They can get coffee, they can talk to a case manager,” Van Kampen said.

The overflow shelter will cost about $1.5 million to run for the year, according to Fisher.

The city of Grand Rapids, Kent County, Guiding Light and private donations are helping cover the cost.

“We have to shelter fewer people at Mel Trotter due to social distancing and things like that so that makes the overflow absolutely necessary and we believe that this is gonna meet the need,” Van Kampen said.

The shelter is grateful the space will be finished as the area begins to see more temperatures below freezing.

“We know that with the barriers that we have at our facility in this time of year that a place like this is very necessary so that people are safe and sheltered and out of the cold and so this is definitely a very necessary space to have,” Fisher said.

The new overflow space officially opens at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning.

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