Ad campaign hopes to help GR homeless population

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — An ad campaign running through the end of the month hopes to generate more public interest for helping Grand Rapids’ homeless population.

Guiding Light is one of the organizations that’s working to find a solution.

Beneath all of the city’s accolades in one of its ongoing TV spots is a scene of poverty and homelessness that’s only gotten worse since the start of the pandemic.

“We have been hearing that there’s well over a thousand (homeless people) that are sleeping outside at night,” said Starla McDermott, development director at Guiding Light.

The pandemic has shaken the economy and affected millions of Americans. The ban on evictions ends on Jan. 31.

“This is even before the moratorium has been lifted on evictions, renting or even foreclosures,” she said. “Which that’s going to be lifted here shortly and I suspect it’s going to get worse.”

Advocacy groups like Mel Trotter Ministries and Guiding Light have a new three-story space downtown at 250 Ionia Ave., providing overnight shelter to as many as 100 people.

The city of Grand Rapids is paying for the lease through May.

“We just knew we had to find a solution,” said McDermott. “We’d rather it be a more permanent solution. But right now, we just want to make sure that people had some place to go in the winter.”

She says a more permanent solution would be homeless housing. A project that Guiding Light is currently having with the city.

“It’s hard to help yourself when you’ve been thrown down or hit the bottom,” she said. “And we need our community to join hands with us so that we can work to fix this problem.”

You can read more about Grand Rapids’ initiatives to solve homelessness in the city here.

People can support Guiding Light’s efforts by visiting its website or calling 616.451.0236.

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