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Shelters in Heartside

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As an FYI, all of Pine Rest Out Patient Mental  Health will be moving into Commerce in the new facility under construction.

 

So they're going to continue to use the area as a dumping ground instead of "tainting" their precious suburban facilities ... I had forgotten about this, but here's the link:  http://mibiz.com/news/design-build/item/20132-pine-rest-herkimer-project-addition.  Fine, my description is too harsh and cynical, and I am sure this is seen as a move to be closer to the population being served, but the practical reality is that this perpetuates the image of South Division as a wasteland for the homeless, insane, mentally challenged, and the like.  They're filling 15,000sf of "prime" commercial street level space on what could be a successful commercial corridor (in our rose-colored Urban Planet alternate reality) and filling it with an outpatient mental health clinic.  Wonderful.  Where else would that ever happen but on South Division?  Nowhere.  So the cycle continues.  And yes, I feel terrible saying that, but again--you're not going to see Pine Rest open up a mental health clinic at Woodland Mall.  Moves like this simply ensure that the future of South Division is not one where any commercial use flourishes.

 

Still, in the other news you report, it's heartening to see the shelters taking at least some initiative.  Even if the area is going to remain a home for the homeless for the rest of our lifetimes, at least it might not have to be so horribly disgusting and objectionable, provided that they can keep up the new standards. 

 

Here's plan #2:  New construction on Wealthy, hopefully some on top of the hospital parking lots, use the Cathedral as a buffer from the Division mess, possible redevelopment of Clark's if the power that be smile down upon us and the place is ever sold, and call it a day.  ICCF is already making some amazing inroads.  Not what they had hoped just yet, but still more than I ever thought they would be able to do.  The more I think about it, the fewer ways I see forward on Division.  Most of the areas of the City that were left for dead and brought back were abandoned or boarded.  That is simply not so on Division.  From a strictly commercial perspective, the scenario there is far, far more dire, and possibly not salvageable, other than some improvements at the shelters.  Think "DG Party Store" on Wealthy x100.  That was just one somewhat goofy old lady hanging onto shelves covered in dust.  Here, our potentially viable commercial strip is a human dumping ground for everyone that no one else wants, with shelters operated by entities that live forever and can cloak themselves in all the righteousness in the world, and that ain't about to change. 

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So what exactly are the policies of these shelters when it comes to whom they allow to use their facilities? Do they actually have just a blanket show up policy? Because this is my biggest issue with them is that they are huge magnets for "homeless immigrants". People that arent from GR, never had a home in the area, and have come here from all over the nation because they know of all the freebies available with no questions asked. I know for a fact that some of these people are from as far away as the west and east coasts, and took the bus here for the express purpose of getting off and walking right up to Division where they are just here to be yet another homeless person wandering the streets of GR, subsidized by the various entities in the area.

 

And with respect to Guiding Light Mission, I highly doubt you guys are escorting females around your facility out of good old "gentlemen courtesy". I mean, seriously? You guys know as well as anyone else that simply is not the case.

Guiding Light Mission's admission policy, valid ID, no outstanding warrants and desire to get back on one's feet. If men are looking only for three squares and a cot, Guiding Light Mission is not the location.

 

In regards to escort, I'd encourage you to come visit. There is not unsafe about Guiding Light Mission.

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Guiding Light Mission's admission policy, valid ID, no outstanding warrants and desire to get back on one's feet. If men are looking only for three squares and a cot, Guiding Light Mission is not the location.

 

In regards to escort, I'd encourage you to come visit. There is not unsafe about Guiding Light Mission.

 

I'll send my wife and three daughters. Could you in good conscience let them park there and come inside without escort?

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GOD needs to be first.

 

I'm pretty sure that the majority of our homeless folks in our community, didn't just decide one day that they wanted to be homeless. (Or addicts, or jobless, etc.)

 

With that said, we ALL have choices. Sometimes, people make bad choices and when we do, we are held accountable. (And if we aren't we should be) But by no means should ANY of us judge. (Let's leave that to GOD) Instead, we should be placing our support behind ALL of these ministries who are diligently trying to help these men, women, and children get their lives back on track. (Day in and day out, countless hours) Sure, there are some who do not want the help. Maybe because they are too proud, too addicted, too whatever, but that doesn't mean we stop trying.

Guiding Light Mission is a very good example. Our community still thinks they are just a "Flop House." That is incorrect. They offer two programs to help these homeless, or addicted, or jobless MEN,  get their lives back. But these Men have to want the help. You have no clue on the impact they are making in our community and in the lives of so many men. Last year alone, they placed 161 men back in our community with full time jobs at a 95% success rate. (Their system is working)  

 

 

All of this takes a ton of effort, resources, volunteers, but most of all MONEY to keep these programs going. In a perfect world, there would be NO NEED to have these types of Non- Profits. That would mean everyone had a decent job, a roof over their heads, at least one hot meal, and this list could go on and on.

 

Rather than complain about it. Maybe do some research on how to help be a part of a solution. I agree with some of you to some extent.......I sure wish Division Ave downtown didn't have such a cluster of homeless people. It breaks my heart. So, let's partner up with these Non Profits like Guiding Light Mission, Degage Ministries, Heartside, etc. and help get these people's lives BACK ON TRACK!

 

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So they're going to continue to use the area as a dumping ground instead of "tainting" their precious suburban facilities ... I had forgotten about this, but here's the link:  http://mibiz.com/news/design-build/item/20132-pine-rest-herkimer-project-addition.  Fine, my description is too harsh and cynical, and I am sure this is seen as a move to be closer to the population being served, but the practical reality is that this perpetuates the image of South Division as a wasteland for the homeless, insane, mentally challenged, and the like.  They're filling 15,000sf of "prime" commercial street level space on what could be a successful commercial corridor (in our rose-colored Urban Planet alternate reality) and filling it with an outpatient mental health clinic.  Wonderful.  Where else would that ever happen but on South Division?  Nowhere.  So the cycle continues.  And yes, I feel terrible saying that, but again--you're not going to see Pine Rest open up a mental health clinic at Woodland Mall.  Moves like this simply ensure that the future of South Division is not one where any commercial use flourishes.

 

Still, in the other news you report, it's heartening to see the shelters taking at least some initiative.  Even if the area is going to remain a home for the homeless for the rest of our lifetimes, at least it might not have to be so horribly disgusting and objectionable, provided that they can keep up the new standards. 

 

Here's plan #2:  New construction on Wealthy, hopefully some on top of the hospital parking lots, use the Cathedral as a buffer from the Division mess, possible redevelopment of Clark's if the power that be smile down upon us and the place is ever sold, and call it a day.  ICCF is already making some amazing inroads.  Not what they had hoped just yet, but still more than I ever thought they would be able to do.  The more I think about it, the fewer ways I see forward on Division.  Most of the areas of the City that were left for dead and brought back were abandoned or boarded.  That is simply not so on Division.  From a strictly commercial perspective, the scenario there is far, far more dire, and possibly not salvageable, other than some improvements at the shelters.  Think "DG Party Store" on Wealthy x100.  That was just one somewhat goofy old lady hanging onto shelves covered in dust.  Here, our potentially viable commercial strip is a human dumping ground for everyone that no one else wants, with shelters operated by entities that live forever and can cloak themselves in all the righteousness in the world, and that ain't about to change. 

 

This reminds me of a conversation I had (over beers) with a prominent local commercial broker. He said South Division will "never" be a good retail corridor. I said "c'mon, it could someday. It has a lot of potential." He reiterated "NEVER."

 

I still hold out hope, but to hear that Pine Rest is going in the Herkimer Commerce project is a bit of a disappointment.

GOD needs to be first.

 

I'm pretty sure that the majority of our homeless folks in our community, didn't just decide one day that they wanted to be homeless. (Or addicts, or jobless, etc.)

 

With that said, we ALL have choices. Sometimes, people make bad choices and when we do, we are held accountable. (And if we aren't we should be) But by no means should ANY of us judge. (Let's leave that to GOD) Instead, we should be placing our support behind ALL of these ministries who are diligently trying to help these men, women, and children get their lives back on track. (Day in and day out, countless hours) Sure, there are some who do not want the help. Maybe because they are too proud, too addicted, too whatever, but that doesn't mean we stop trying.

Guiding Light Mission is a very good example. Our community still thinks they are just a "Flop House." That is incorrect. They offer two programs to help these homeless, or addicted, or jobless MEN,  get their lives back. But these Men have to want the help. You have no clue on the impact they are making in our community and in the lives of so many men. Last year alone, they placed 161 men back in our community with full time jobs at a 95% success rate. (Their system is working)  

 

 

All of this takes a ton of effort, resources, volunteers, but most of all MONEY to keep these programs going. In a perfect world, there would be NO NEED to have these types of Non- Profits. That would mean everyone had a decent job, a roof over their heads, at least one hot meal, and this list could go on and on.

 

Rather than complain about it. Maybe do some research on how to help be a part of a solution. I agree with some of you to some extent.......I sure wish Division Ave downtown didn't have such a cluster of homeless people. It breaks my heart. So, let's partner up with these Non Profits like Guiding Light Mission, Degage Ministries, Heartside, etc. and help get these people's lives BACK ON TRACK!

 

What if someone is atheist? Or Muslim? Or Hindu?

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I applaud guiding light mission in joining the discussion and I think that his group does wonderful things for those who want help. However, one question that has not been answered is why in that location? I don't think that any of these groups have any intention of doing anything but helping the community. But with all of the. Being clustered in Heartside, it causes unintended harm to the community as a whole.

I also find it interesting that the are all of these new low income apartments being established and being consentrated in one location. I admit that I don't fully know the peramiters and regulations that they are setting forth. Something tells me that the people who live in these apartments will not be going to Hop Cat or the Rockwell for dinner. Pine Rest is only going to make that area worse.

I admit that I am removed from the situation a bit since we east of the city and we don't make it into downtown as much as we should. But I have to ask this... Would you be comfortable with your 18 year old daughter to live alone in an apartment in this area? Would you walk with your spouse and kids in this area? If answer is no, then their is something wrong with the safety in the area. My wife and kids know that the area south of the front doors of the arena is not safe, so we don't go there as a family.

As for God, something tells me that he does not approve of the alcohol, drugs, prostitution, and people living off the services of thers with do real ambition to actually change.

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GOD needs to be first.

 

I'm pretty sure that the majority of our homeless folks in our community, didn't just decide one day that they wanted to be homeless. (Or addicts, or jobless, etc.)

 

With that said, we ALL have choices. Sometimes, people make bad choices and when we do, we are held accountable. (And if we aren't we should be) But by no means should ANY of us judge. (Let's leave that to GOD) Instead, we should be placing our support behind ALL of these ministries who are diligently trying to help these men, women, and children get their lives back on track. (Day in and day out, countless hours) Sure, there are some who do not want the help. Maybe because they are too proud, too addicted, too whatever, but that doesn't mean we stop trying.

Guiding Light Mission is a very good example. Our community still thinks they are just a "Flop House." That is incorrect. They offer two programs to help these homeless, or addicted, or jobless MEN,  get their lives back. But these Men have to want the help. You have no clue on the impact they are making in our community and in the lives of so many men. Last year alone, they placed 161 men back in our community with full time jobs at a 95% success rate. (Their system is working)  

 

 

All of this takes a ton of effort, resources, volunteers, but most of all MONEY to keep these programs going. In a perfect world, there would be NO NEED to have these types of Non- Profits. That would mean everyone had a decent job, a roof over their heads, at least one hot meal, and this list could go on and on.

 

Rather than complain about it. Maybe do some research on how to help be a part of a solution. I agree with some of you to some extent.......I sure wish Division Ave downtown didn't have such a cluster of homeless people. It breaks my heart. So, let's partner up with these Non Profits like Guiding Light Mission, Degage Ministries, Heartside, etc. and help get these people's lives BACK ON TRACK!

 

I guess this may sound cruel, but I DONT CARE about the biographies of the homeless. I don't care who they are, what their lives were like, how they got there, what are their favorite books, or whether or not they like pie.

 

What this is about is whether or not to have these organizations, it is about HOW these places are run, how are they managing their clients, and how their proximity to each other and lack of coordination has led to this mess within less than quarter of a sq. mile. How can we expect economic development to occur when their clients are loitering all over the damn place and engaging in unacceptable behavior that is driving away people? How can people that are paying to live there expect a decent quality of life when they have to deal with a constant crowd of homeless waiting around where they live for mealtime or check-in at the shelter? How can people from outside the area be dissuaded from migrating to GR just to leech off of these services? How can vulnerable homeless be protected from dealers, pimps, and crooks? What will be the impact of cementing these facilities here with no chance of dispersal? How can public safety be better protected from people there that are pests? And what will likely happen if these places simply refuse to get with the program and tighten up their standards as new developments start to surround and overwhelm the Heartside area in the coming years?

 

Guiding Light got 161 men off the street. How quickly did the 161 get replaced by 200 more from Chicago, Detroit, Cincinnati? How many people from GR have to compete with homeless migrants for help. For a hot meal? For a bed?

 

Right now, it is chaos with only a vague hint of a strategy, and still far too much naivety. As long as it's a free-for-all and people keep pouring into the city from all points of the compass, I'm not interested in giving one dime.

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So they're going to continue to use the area as a dumping ground instead of "tainting" their precious suburban facilities ... I had forgotten about this, but here's the link:  http://mibiz.com/news/design-build/item/20132-pine-rest-herkimer-project-addition.  Fine, my description is too harsh and cynical, and I am sure this is seen as a move to be closer to the population being served, but the practical reality is that this perpetuates the image of South Division as a wasteland for the homeless, insane, mentally challenged, and the like.  They're filling 15,000sf of "prime" commercial street level space on what could be a successful commercial corridor (in our rose-colored Urban Planet alternate reality) and filling it with an outpatient mental health clinic.  Wonderful.  Where else would that ever happen but on South Division?  Nowhere.  So the cycle continues.  And yes, I feel terrible saying that, but again--you're not going to see Pine Rest open up a mental health clinic at Woodland Mall.  Moves like this simply ensure that the future of South Division is not one where any commercial use flourishes.

 

Still, in the other news you report, it's heartening to see the shelters taking at least some initiative.  Even if the area is going to remain a home for the homeless for the rest of our lifetimes, at least it might not have to be so horribly disgusting and objectionable, provided that they can keep up the new standards. 

 

Here's plan #2:  New construction on Wealthy, hopefully some on top of the hospital parking lots, use the Cathedral as a buffer from the Division mess, possible redevelopment of Clark's if the power that be smile down upon us and the place is ever sold, and call it a day.  ICCF is already making some amazing inroads.  Not what they had hoped just yet, but still more than I ever thought they would be able to do.  The more I think about it, the fewer ways I see forward on Division.  Most of the areas of the City that were left for dead and brought back were abandoned or boarded.  That is simply not so on Division.  From a strictly commercial perspective, the scenario there is far, far more dire, and possibly not salvageable, other than some improvements at the shelters.  Think "DG Party Store" on Wealthy x100.  That was just one somewhat goofy old lady hanging onto shelves covered in dust.  Here, our potentially viable commercial strip is a human dumping ground for everyone that no one else wants, with shelters operated by entities that live forever and can cloak themselves in all the righteousness in the world, and that ain't about to change. 

 

A couple of useful points: Pine Rest has a number of locations, not simply one in Cutlerville. As a matter of fact they have an outpatient clinic in Caledonia, plus three others in the immediate Grand Rapids area. Second, moving the homeless closer to Heritage Hill and all for the sake of precious development space on Division? What planet does such an idea come from? Were you paying attention when the folks from Salon did the make-over of State street?

 

If one looks at the Census numbers for tract 21, one can see that the neighborhood of your plan already has significant population in poverty (38 percent of HH lie between $10 and $30k). The combined population (HH) of those with less than $10k income -- a rough for your "homeless" -- is on the order of 900+ for tracts 20 and 21, about evenly split. So the plan is to move those 900 people  to where? You don't need a degree in economics to realize how significant such a move would be, or why most any other neighborhood would holler at their approach.

 

And all this comes back to what it means to be a city, a humane city. You speak of "a human dumping ground," what then is the humane response to those who suffer, who are poor? If we are not to dump, then we must go back and engage. Along Division Ave are some pioneering models of private-public engagement in helping this distressed population. At the head of the list would be the entrereneuralism of Denny Sturdevant. The past generation's building of subsidized housing is another step -- and a far cry from the flop house conditions of places like the old Weston Hotel. Here's the idea: maybe the good city, the real city that we can be proud of, is the city that works to solve its problems, that creates innovative social institutions, and collaborates to solve problems.

.

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I'll send my wife and three daughters. Could you in good conscience let them park there and come inside without escort?

At Guiding Light Mission, absolutely. My own daughter arrived this morning at The Mission at 6a, no escort. 

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Would those on this forum be interested in meeting with the Executive Directors, looking to identify common ground and develop a collaborative strategy?

 

I believe many here would be interested in ACTION on the following . . . .

 

[ Metrogrkid, on 06 Jun 2013 - 11:00 PM, said:

 

". . . . if the shelters and food kitchens are to remain in this rapidly (and thankfully) upgrading area of the Heartside District, then they must step up and take active responsibility in tying the provision of food, clothes and shelter to any or all of the following access requirements including: 1] mandatory substance abuse treatment; 2] mandatory psychological treatment; 3] mandatory education placement; 4] mandatory job training/placement and 5] mandatory minimal level interpersonal communication training <i.e. - the basic etiquette for positive participation in general society that proper parents teach to and demand of their children> . . . .

 

. . . . It is the epitome of incompetence and lack of authentic compassion for them to make the homeless dependent on their free services while simultaneously not holding each service recipient accountable for their receipt of service by attaching such benefits to their own rejuvenation, transformation and self-improvement/makeover process via associated homeless service programming . . . . " ]

 

:mellow:

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Would those on this forum be interested in meeting with the Executive Directors, looking to identify common ground and develop a collaborative strategy?

 

I think I might have the right avenue for furthering and broadening this discussion...

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I applaud guiding light mission in joining the discussion and I think that his group does wonderful things for those who want help. However, one question that has not been answered is why in that location? I don't think that any of these groups have any intention of doing anything but helping the community. But with all of the. Being clustered in Heartside, it causes unintended harm to the community as a whole.

I also find it interesting that the are all of these new low income apartments being established and being consentrated in one location. I admit that I don't fully know the peramiters and regulations that they are setting forth. Something tells me that the people who live in these apartments will not be going to Hop Cat or the Rockwell for dinner. Pine Rest is only going to make that area worse.

I admit that I am removed from the situation a bit since we east of the city and we don't make it into downtown as much as we should. But I have to ask this... Would you be comfortable with your 18 year old daughter to live alone in an apartment in this area? Would you walk with your spouse and kids in this area? If answer is no, then their is something wrong with the safety in the area. My wife and kids know that the area south of the front doors of the arena is not safe, so we don't go there as a family.

As for God, something tells me that he does not approve of the alcohol, drugs, prostitution, and people living off the services of thers with do real ambition to actually change.

I've been trying to figure the Heartside thing out also. The homeless population years ago, say 30-40 looks much different than today. The rail station where US Signal is was a magnet. Mel Trotter and Guiding Light Mission have been here over 80 years each, Degage and Heartside Ministries rather new, 30+years. At one point there was a mission on Bridge. I don't know, Heartside was not planned. So, here we are.

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I believe many here would be interested in ACTION on the following . . . .

 

[ Metrogrkid, on 06 Jun 2013 - 11:00 PM, said:

 

". . . . if the shelters and food kitchens are to remain in this rapidly (and thankfully) upgrading area of the Heartside District, then they must step up and take active responsibility in tying the provision of food, clothes and shelter to any or all of the following access requirements including: 1] mandatory substance abuse treatment; 2] mandatory psychological treatment; 3] mandatory education placement; 4] mandatory job training/placement and 5] mandatory minimal level interpersonal communication training <i.e. - the basic etiquette for positive participation in general society that proper parents teach to and demand of their children> . . . .

 

. . . . It is the epitome of incompetence and lack of authentic compassion for them to make the homeless dependent on their free services while simultaneously not holding each service recipient accountable for their receipt of service by attaching such benefits to their own rejuvenation, transformation and self-improvement/makeover process via associated homeless service programming . . . . " ]

 

:mellow:

I would agree with your statement . . . . It is the epitome of incompetence and lack of authentic compassion for them to make the homeless dependent on their free services while simultaneously not holding each service recipient accountable for their receipt of service by attaching such benefits to their own rejuvenation, transformation and self-improvement/makeover process via associated homeless service programming . . . . " ].... however in the community there is choice. When you sign up for Guiding Light Mission, those are the requirements, but not all see it this way. It is easier in this community to aise money on rescue vs. Guiding Light Mission's standard of reconstruction. However, we will stay the course for those willing to follow your above referenced criteria. This is also why Guiding Light Mission introduced Toxic Charity into the community in Oct and hosted three community forums. I know I'm whining  but I can't do this all by myself. So, when are we going to eet collectively?

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Mr. Ray, thank you again for joining this discussion; your input has been widely appreciated. I know that it is a hard thing to gauge, but I wonder how much of the 'bad things' going on in the Heartside area is due in part to those who go to the mission? Perhaps the misgivings of the area are just due to ambient activity from undesirable groups who are in the area from reasons other than to go to the missions? I think that this distinction is what needs to be sorted-out before any true discussion on solutions can be had.

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As the Director of Dégagé Ministries, I would like to join this discussion.  I agree with the comment that there are two  groups of people living in this neighborhood:  those who are homeless and those who struggle with addictions and mental illness. I think we would all agree it is not a crime to be homeless and those among us who truly need and want the help should be offered it.  It is those who break the law and refuse help that are the most challenging to deal with.  No one social service agency can be held responsible for their negative and inappropriate behavior.   As we know, unless someone is a threat to themselves or someone else,  we can not mandate that they get help. 

 

  At Dégagé, we have a set of standards that must be adhered to and a lengthy list of those who are suspended for not abiding by those guidelines.  In order to return, they must prove they have accomplished certain goals, such as receiving drug and alcohol treatment, getting mental health treatment, etc.  Thus, many of the people hanging out on the street are those who are not allowed in our facility and refuse to get help for their addictions.  Many are suspended from all the agencies in this neighborhood. 

 

 On April 1 we brought in an outside security company which has greatly reduced the drug dealing in and around our facility.  We have heard very positive comments from the people who need and appreciate our services.   We would all love to see more police presence in this neighborhood but with their current budget constraints, that will probably not happen in the near future.   The police have said they appreciate us utilizing an outside security company but that they have to realize they do not have any authority to move people off the public sidewalk.  Thus the loitering continues to be an issue that is challenging to deal with, especially since those with addictions also know we have no authority to make them move.  There is no incentive for them when they are already suspended. 

 

As an agency we have ongoing conversations about the best location to offer our services.  Many of the people we serve live in one of the many subsidized units provided by Dwelling Place.  They are able to live independently because of the social services in this neighborhood.  No one drives to Dégagé.  They all walk.   If the social service agencies moved to various places in our city, it would cause a hardship for many of the people in the Heartside neighborhood. 

 

The Executive Directors of the Heartisde agencies meet monthly and I will bring your comments to our next meeting. 

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Thank you for joining the discussion! Since furthers my belief that the negative culture in the area is not directly cause by those who go to the missions. Right now, as pointed out, the issue seems to be security. If the police are not able to beef-up their presence, is there any way to initiate a citizen's arrest program? Are the questionable characters actually doing anything illegal? What about bringing in the Michigan State Police; would the situation warrant it?

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As the Director of Dégagé Ministries, I would like to join this discussion.  I agree with the comment that there are two  groups of people living in this neighborhood:  those who are homeless and those who struggle with addictions and mental illness. I think we would all agree it is not a crime to be homeless and those among us who truly need and want the help should be offered it.  It is those who break the law and refuse help that are the most challenging to deal with.  No one social service agency can be held responsible for their negative and inappropriate behavior.   As we know, unless someone is a threat to themselves or someone else,  we can not mandate that they get help. 

 

  At Dégagé, we have a set of standards that must be adhered to and a lengthy list of those who are suspended for not abiding by those guidelines.  In order to return, they must prove they have accomplished certain goals, such as receiving drug and alcohol treatment, getting mental health treatment, etc.  Thus, many of the people hanging out on the street are those who are not allowed in our facility and refuse to get help for their addictions.  Many are suspended from all the agencies in this neighborhood. 

 

 On April 1 we brought in an outside security company which has greatly reduced the drug dealing in and around our facility.  We have heard very positive comments from the people who need and appreciate our services.   We would all love to see more police presence in this neighborhood but with their current budget constraints, that will probably not happen in the near future.   The police have said they appreciate us utilizing an outside security company but that they have to realize they do not have any authority to move people off the public sidewalk.  Thus the loitering continues to be an issue that is challenging to deal with, especially since those with addictions also know we have no authority to make them move.  There is no incentive for them when they are already suspended. 

 

As an agency we have ongoing conversations about the best location to offer our services.  Many of the people we serve live in one of the many subsidized units provided by Dwelling Place.  They are able to live independently because of the social services in this neighborhood.  No one drives to Dégagé.  They all walk.   If the social service agencies moved to various places in our city, it would cause a hardship for many of the people in the Heartside neighborhood. 

 

The Executive Directors of the Heartisde agencies meet monthly and I will bring your comments to our next meeting. 

Welcome

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Thank you for joining the discussion! Since furthers my belief that the negative culture in the area is not directly cause by those who go to the missions. Right now, as pointed out, the issue seems to be security. If the police are not able to beef-up their presence, is there any way to initiate a citizen's arrest program? Are the questionable characters actually doing anything illegal? What about bringing in the Michigan State Police; would the situation warrant it?

A city street is not within the purview of MSP; they handle interstates and state highways.

 

Welcome, both of you agency directors. Mel Trotter, c'mon down.

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I guess what is being lost in this thread is the fact the no one thinks that the services provided there are unnecessary nor worthless. It is the fact that the cluster of these services in a very small area is causing it to be non desirable to anyone else. The perception of the area is driven by the fact of what people see when they drive down Division Avenue people passed out on the sidewalks, large clusters of people congregated in the sidewalks, drug deals, and etc. You cannot say that these facts are not true, I live 3 blocks away and drive through here every day and see them myself. The question that I and I think others have expressed is "Is it necessary for them all to locate in such a small area?". Even you have to agree that the likelihood for development in the area, short of low income or other government subsidized programs, is very bleak because of this current setup.

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Agreed. Perception is reality. I walk Division every day on my way to work and it can be dicey (either perceived danger, or the general incovenience of panhandling). I'm glad Degage and Guiding Light have joined the discussion. But my concern is if I feel uncomfortable, how do other people feel. 

 

The concentration of shelters / services "IS" a problem. It does squelch development, and as a "gateway" into the city, seeing 25-50 people on each side of the street, standing, laying, sleeping; it's not welcoming. I think it will be a challenge to the Silverline reaching its full potential. 

 

I wish services could be distributed. I'm not asking for services to go away, but does everything have to be in a 3 block area? Does that truly serve the whole city? 

 

It's a tough discussion, especially in the P.C. world we live in, but we're doing a disservice to the city by ignoring the issue at hand. 

 

Do we want Division to continue to be known as skidrow for the next 50 years? The architecture is beautiful. The street is a main thoroughfare and could be a great asset to the city. 

 

I think the city should get involved and think long and hard about the density of low/no income services. A mix of low, moderate and market rate housing is the answer, but we keep pouring LIHTC into this area without a long-term plan. 

 

I hope we continue this divisive conversation. The city NEEDS to have this discussion. 

 

I applaud Degage and Guiding Light for jumping into this conversation. Where's the city? We know you read this forum. Step out of the shadows and be heard. 

 

Joe

 

 

I guess what is being lost in this thread is the fact the no one thinks that the services provided there are unnecessary nor worthless. It is the fact that the cluster of these services in a very small area is causing it to be non desirable to anyone else. The perception of the area is driven by the fact of what people see when they drive down Division Avenue people passed out on the sidewalks, large clusters of people congregated in the sidewalks, drug deals, and etc. You cannot say that these facts are not true, I live 3 blocks away and drive through here every day and see them myself. The question that I and I think others have expressed is "Is it necessary for them all to locate in such a small area?". Even you have to agree that the likelihood for development in the area, short of low income or other government subsidized programs, is very bleak because of this current setup.

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GOD needs to be first.

...

 

..Sure, there are some who do not want the help..

Maybe they're sick of/afraid of having GOD shoved down their throats.  There was a time I was very close to needing to go to such a place (narrowly avoided) and even in that time of desperation, I felt apprehensive because I feared these places would take every opportunity to try to convert me, and that I'd have to play along or else receive diminished or even cessation of help.  (The earlier comment of GRDad's ousting from a group simply for not even being the right kind of christian is proof enough that such a fear is not unwarranted.)  It may have been paranoid thinking at the time of wondering what else could go wrong, but it felt like some of these places may even have been helping the homeless more as an easy target to convert than out of genuine want to help, but it's not a far stretch being a non-christian and seeing the proliferation of christian symbols and bible verses everywhere like advertising at a mall.

 

Not everyone is a christian, not everyone wants to be christian.  If you want god to be first in your personal life, that's great, but don't put it first in other people's lives.

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Would you be opposeded to us moving some place else in the neighborhood, somewhere within walking distance for those who use our services, but just not on the corner of Division & Cherry? 

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Would you be opposeded to us moving some place else in the neighborhood, somewhere within walking distance for those who use our services, but just not on the corner of Division & Cherry? 

 

I think that might help the situation. And welcome to the discussion. I think a lot of people here understand and respect the need for services such as these. I've helped at God's Kitchen, I've been through Access West Michigan's Poverty Simulation, and I grew up in a pretty poor household where several years we didn't celebrate Christmas because we had no money, and worried about what we were going to eat for supper. I wouldn't wish such a life on anyone, and would love to see the people who are able to return to productive society helped to get there.

 

But I also understand that the city needs to be business friendly. It is employers with people on payroll who help pay for police, fire, parks, and help sustain the housing market. There is every reason in the world for these companies to locate in the suburbs, because it's generally cheaper, the populace is more educated, and shoppers with high incomes are plentiful. Those are undisputed facts. The city has to do 10x the work that the suburbs do because they are swimming upstream. As much as many of the people on this forum prefer working, shopping, living in urban environments, we are in the minority.

 

I also don't think a lot of people here are just hoping for more bars (as was mentioned earlier in this discussion). Probably the opposite. I've been on Ionia on the weekends at night, and we don't need any more of that in my humble opinion.

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I think there are perhaps three threads of thoughts here:

  • One is the problem of people loitering, together with a variety of asocial public behavior.
  • Second, there is problem of concentration of services.
  • Third, there is the perceived problem of too much subsidized housing.

While there is a certain interlocking of these, they really are three problems. The asocial behavior is not a function of service concentration except in a certain Baysian mode: x% of the very poor act in this way. Well, we have 800 or so in the immediate neighborhood, so apply your probabilities.

 

Given a pedestrian population, does dispersal make any sense whatsoever? Remember here that it is not just the three missions, it is the Goodwill store, Dwelling Place, Cherry Street Health, Heartside Ministry, and I'm sure I'm leaving out others. There is a web of services for a very fixed population. Does dispersal really make sense given the immobility of the population?

 

Last, too much subsidized housing. We certainly could put them in another neighborhood, several already ave significant numbers (John Ball Park, Mary Waters housing by St. Alphonsus, etc). I think much of this depends on who exactly such housing is for -- the downtown population may be different from those in other neighborhoods (let's get the social scientists on this).

 

And then a word about this being a "gateway to the city" -- uh, no. The better gateway is Ionia/Ottawa corridor, particularly if the S curve comes down (again, see the Salon discussions). While the street will become important with the Silver Line, that will still be principally serving the working class communities along Division (Burton Heights, Godwin, Home Acres, Kellogsville).

 

So given all this, rather than indulge in fanatasies about the street, let's own that the problem is more specific, that of asocial behavior by a relatively few. that is manageable, and I bet that can be dealt with.

 

Agreed. Perception is reality. I walk Division every day on my way to work and it can be dicey (either perceived danger, or the general incovenience of panhandling). I'm glad Degage and Guiding Light have joined the discussion. But my concern is if I feel uncomfortable, how do other people feel. 

 

The concentration of shelters / services "IS" a problem. It does squelch development, and as a "gateway" into the city, seeing 25-50 people on each side of the street, standing, laying, sleeping; it's not welcoming. I think it will be a challenge to the Silverline reaching its full potential. 

 

I wish services could be distributed. I'm not asking for services to go away, but does everything have to be in a 3 block area? Does that truly serve the whole city? 

 

It's a tough discussion, especially in the P.C. world we live in, but we're doing a disservice to the city by ignoring the issue at hand. 

 

Do we want Division to continue to be known as skidrow for the next 50 years? The architecture is beautiful. The street is a main thoroughfare and could be a great asset to the city. 

 

I think the city should get involved and think long and hard about the density of low/no income services. A mix of low, moderate and market rate housing is the answer, but we keep pouring LIHTC into this area without a long-term plan. 

 

I hope we continue this divisive conversation. The city NEEDS to have this discussion. 

 

I applaud Degage and Guiding Light for jumping into this conversation. Where's the city? We know you read this forum. Step out of the shadows and be heard. 

 

Joe

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