GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A new winter shelter is under construction in Grand Rapids, aiming to offer more than just a safe and warm space for those in need.

Mel Trotter Ministries is expecting to open its newest location in the first two weeks of December. The new space at 200 S. Division Ave. near Cherry Street will accommodate 75 to 100 people overnight.

“What happened last year with the pandemic, we knew going into winter due to social distancing, there would not be enough space for everyone who wanted shelter during the winter,” Mel Trotter Ministries President and CEO Dennis Van Kampen said. “So we had to go in search for an overflow shelter.”

The Grand Rapids City Commission and the nonprofit were able to establish $300,000 agreement to expand access and services.

“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,” Connie Bohatch, managing director of community services for the city, said. 

There is a construction team on site adding Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible bathrooms and showers, replacing the heating system and overall making the shelter a welcoming and livable environment.

“The goal is this winter anybody that wants to come in and find shelter will be able to,” Van Kampen said.

City officials say this facility is located much closer to the people that would need it. In addition, it will offer a range of services to help guests get out of homelessness. Heartside Ministry will also move into the facility and run day operations. The ministry will offer a variety of programs for the residents to learn, socialize and grow.

In addition to a laundry room and quiet room, storage rooms will also be available. They will be managed by staff.

Traditional shelter rules will be removed so that more people will come indoors.

“We will provide storage for anyone that’s on the streets that doesn’t have a place to store their stuff, even if they aren’t staying here overnight,” Van Kampen said. “We will have lockers and bins where they can store their stuff so they don’t have to carry everywhere. That’s new this year and we are excited about that.”

Van Kampen said the shelter is out out of nonprofit’s budget but they are going on faith to provide this service to the community.

“We have more room for support for this because the truth of it is this shelter is not in the Mel Trotter budget, but we know we have to do this because we feel a responsibility to make sure anyone seeking shelter in the winter find it,” he said.

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