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Pilot program in GR to house homeless women

Homeless photo

Michigan’s first housing program specifically for women who are chronically homeless is opening in Grand Rapids with a ribbon-cutting Thursday morning

Degage Ministries will use the former Hope Lodge hospitality house as temporary housing to help chronically homeless women transition to permanent places.

Executive Director Thelma Ensink explains it’s the first program in the state to focus on women with significant medical and mental health needs.

”Getting them into house allows them to have intense one-on-one case management and to be able to access preventative health care, meet regularly with case managers and move forward toward their goals so it’s really important for these women to get housed.”

Ensink says having a place for 25 women in transition will also free up more space in their one-night-only emergency shelter. Its seeing a huge increase in need, serving more than 125 women during peak winter times.

“About a third of the women in shelter right now are over the age of 62, many of them with physical disabilities that are needing some additional assistance.”

She says the new housing is an important piece of the area’s homeless response system, and credits partnerships with the city, Trinity Health and others.

“It’s a testament to who we are in Grand Rapids and how well we work together.”

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