Mel Trotter completes first phase of shelter renovation

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Courtesy Mel Trotter Ministries

Mel Trotter Ministries soon will open part of its new $14.9 million renovation project to address homelessness in West Michigan.

The organization said phase one of its new shelter is scheduled to be complete the week of Feb. 21. The latest of the new development at 225 Commerce Ave. SW includes four-person rooms with private bathrooms, private rooms and living areas for families, additional bathrooms and state-of-the-art safety features.

“When people come to Mel Trotter, they’re already going through a difficult life chapter that resulted in them being homeless”, said Dennis Van Kampen, president and CEO, Mel Trotter Ministries. “Many have lost everything, including the belief that they are worthy of anything. We’re here to change that.”

Phase one will include eight new family units where adults and children can stay together in a room while having access to a communal children’s play area. The new men’s floor includes groups of rooms designated for specific populations such as the elderly, veterans and those recovering from substance abuse. The third floor also was completed and will house single men who currently are employed.

Altogether, the first phase includes a total of 64 semiprivate rooms with 107 beds and a youth emergency shelter with seven private dorms to accommodate 14 individuals. The newly completed east half of the day center includes five of nine completed unisex full bathrooms, a guest laundry room, a women’s day center with a private bathroom, a computer station, guest resource desk, two counseling offices, a snack area and a library.

Guests also can store private belongings in a room or storage locker and are offered case management with a seven-day plan.

The renovations are part of Mel Trotter’s new approach to serving homeless individuals and families by offering more privacy, space and updated services, rather than standard models of large spaces with little to no privacy and restricted building hours.

“This new model shows that we believe each person has value regardless of where they are in their life story,” Van Kampen said. “We demonstrate the compassion and love that Jesus showed, and it starts with giving people choices about how they spend their day and offering them a clean, more private space where they can rest and prepare for their next chapter.”

The capital campaign for the 48,000-square-foot renovation, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2022, also will include updated doctor and dental offices, expanded space for homeless youth and space where guests can experience a reprieve from the cold or heat.

Rockford Construction is the general contractor on the project in collaboration with Next Step of West Michigan, a division of Mel Trotter that provides job training and employment opportunities.

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