West Michigan is heading into a deep freeze with temperatures and wind chills dropping into the single digits. Grand Rapids Heartside District and its homeless missions are extending hours and preparing additional accommodations for an influx of patrons. WGVU spoke with Mel Trotter’s Vice President of Programs, Adrienne Goodstal.
“We are really proactive. We go into what we now refer to as our Code Blue which is really making sure that we’re partnering with the area agencies. We’ve lifted all of our curfews so that individuals can come in to shelter. We’re working closely with GRPD (Grand Rapids Police Department) and the Community Liaison Officers to make sure that when they’re out doing patrols and they find somebody that they know that we have a bed here. We work with again, some of the outreach workers at other agencies to help provide some of the resources; hand warmers and gloves and mittens and things like that that they can bring out to the communities.”
Just how many homeless are there in the Grand Rapids area and are there enough accommodations when temperatures fall into the single digits and sub-zero?
“So what you’re referring to is our yearly, county PIT count. Point in Time count that we do every year at the end of January and that’s to get an idea of what’s the number of homelessness in Kent County and it is on the rise, unfortunately. And I don’t know the exact number off the top of my head but we do know we’ve seen the number increase. You know, I think that again, it just goes back to working collectively and collaboratively with other area agencies because the problem is greater than one agency that can solve it. And so together, if we can come together, then we might be able to move the needle a little bit.”
Adrienne Goodstal is V.P. of Programs at Mel Trotter Mission.
For a full list of all warming centers long on at meltrotter.org/gethelp/shelter
Patrick Center, WGVU News.