Coalition transforms former Purple East into warming center, overnight shelter

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

warmA 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, 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.

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 also is providing direct financial support, in addition to assistance with clothing, shoes, food and personal care items.

"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," said Stuart Ray, executive director of Guiding Light. "They are our neighbors – and they deserve to be treated as such."
Author Information
Paul R. Kopenkoskey
Author: Paul R. KopenkoskeyWebsite:
Paul R. Kopenkoskey is a full-time freelance writer and editor for an assortment of publications including Grand Rapids Magazine, Grand Rapids Business Journal, and Faith Grand Rapids magazine. He has completed his first novel with the working title, Karl Beguiled. He and his wife, Barb, live in Wyoming, Michigan. They have three children and five grandchildren.

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