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GRDadof3

Homeless in Heartside

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The Heartside Historic District, which our very own members voted as the best "up and coming" area downtown, has a homeless problem. Despite efforts to reuse many beautifully designed buildings along Ionia, Commerce, and South Division, does the mass concentration of missions and homeless shelters in this area create an environment that is hostile to future residential and commercial ventures? Maybe even to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars? Public indecency, public drunkenness, harassment of nearby residents and workers? I have even heard that some of the missions only serve men, or separate men and women, because of the number of registered sex offenders who use their services. I've also heard that women who volunteer at certain missions (like Guiding Light) must be escorted into the building by security guards.

Is this a problem that requires a long-term solution? Should the missions and shelters be moved to another area? Is it heartless to even suggest it? Is the negative stigma even spilling over into the rest of downtown (like Monroe Center)?

And will it affect ridership on the proposed BRT - South Division route, especially if ITP plans to target commuters?

Agree, disagree?

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The Heartside Historic District, which our very own members voted as the best "up and coming" area downtown, has a homeless problem. Despite efforts to reuse many beautifully designed buildings along Ionia, Commerce, and South Division, does the mass concentration of missions and homeless shelters in this area create an environment that is hostile to future residential and commercial ventures? Maybe even to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars? Public indecency, public drunkenness, harassment of nearby residents and workers? I have even heard that some of the missions only serve men, or separate men and women, because of the number of registered sex offenders who use their services. I've also heard that women who volunteer at certain missions (like Guiding Light) must be escorted into the building by security guards.

Is this a problem that requires a long-term solution? Should the missions and shelters be moved to another area? Is it heartless to even suggest it? Is the negative stigma even spilling over into the rest of downtown (like Monroe Center)?

Agree, disagree?

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I do know that there are many alleged sexual predators housed in the Heartside.

I would like to be educated more on this situation and what is really going on. I've heard some folks refer to the homeless situation in Heartside as a 'revolving door. There's too much evangelizing.'

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How did Heartside become such a magnet for missions and shelters? Why aren't the shelters more spread out throughout the city?

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How did Heartside become such a magnet for missions and shelters? Why aren't the shelters more spread out throughout the city?

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Shutting down the missions would force them back into the suburbs? I believe one of the reasons why they are centralized is because social services are also centralized in the city.

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GR does not have a special homeless problem as it is this way throughout Michigan. The problem stems from the almost total eliminiation of State mental hospitals over the last few decades. The State has thrust this problem upon the urban cores of Michigan, this has not always been a problem. The mentally ill from the rural and suburban areas are thrust into being homeless and they have no where to go but to the urban cores for resources because they are so easily given there.

If GR or people in general want to really address the problem they will force the state to resume the services it obviously should be providing.

However the State is not going to do this any time soon because the political power is not in the hands of the urban cores but rather in the hands of the suburbs and rural towns.

So given the obvious political climate GR should just shut them down and this would force the homeless into the suburbs. Cause face it the suburbs are quite happy with the mentally ill homeless being in the major urban cores and not in their backyard. They would rather donate $10 or $100 a year to the shelters so they don't feel guilty.

So given everything GR should just shut the shelters down unless they are providing real services for homeless that are just on hard times and can be returned to the work force. Or the homeless shelters should have financial assistance from GR to relocate to the suburbs.

This is not cruel, this would result in the suburbs having to deal with their own problems instead of their own mentally ill being served by others.

The idea that the shelters are providing the same or even slightly close level of care the State mental hospitals provided is funny. All they are providing is the very most basic level of food and shelter and possibly some meds.

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"They would rather donate $10 or $100 a year to the shelters so they don't feel guilty"

Here are my motives.

Proverbs on The poor.

28 27 He who gives to the poor will lack nothing,

but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.

29 7 The righteous care about justice for the poor,

but the wicked have no such concern.

31 8 "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,

for the rights of all who are destitute.

31 9 Speak up and judge fairly;

defend the rights of the poor and needy."

22 9 A generous man will himself be blessed,

for he shares his food with the poor.

22 22 Do not exploit the poor because they are poor

and do not crush the needy in court,

22 23 for the LORD will take up their case

and will plunder those who plunder them.

21 13 If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor,

he too will cry out and not be answered.

19 17 He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD ,

and he will reward him for what he has done.

17 5 He who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker;

whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.

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Oh come on. We're not talking about the working "poor", we're talking about the mentally ill or substance abusing homeless people that have overrun the Heartside District. Perhaps our problem in GR is that we're too "compassionate", sipping our hot latte from our nice cushy seat at Resurrection Life in Grandville.

Here's another good question. Why are homeless shelters and missions taking up land that is the probably the most valuable in all of Kent County? Sometimes 5 to 10x more valuable than land in surrounding "greenfield" areas? It seems like these organizations would be better "stewards" of their resources on less costly land.

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That is an asinine statement. So you think the evil suburbanites pump money into the evil metropolis just to keep the homeless out? This could have been an intelligent conversation about development and the issues of homelessness, but now it is just plain annoying.

I'd close this thread if it weren't for the fact that GRDad asked an intelligent question.

Joe

So given the obvious political climate GR should just shut them down and this would force the homeless into the suburbs. Cause face it the suburbs are quite happy with the mentally ill homeless being in the major urban cores and not in their backyard. They would rather donate $10 or $100 a year to the shelters so they don't feel guilty.

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I don't buy this...

I walk pass many homeless in downtown Chicago and the cranes keep comming.

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I don't buy this...

I walk pass many homeless in downtown Chicago and the cranes keep comming.

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Yes, Rizzo, that's true. But the homeless are not concentrated in Chicago like they are in Grand Rapids. And you can find particular areas like Streeterville, where the homeless are a little more prevalent, that have seen a lack of development as well.

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GR8-town,

Not sure what your agenda is, but I would ease up on the harsh comments.

Rachel

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are quote's form other posters, And facts harsh comments? Come on now don't be so sensitive.

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Yes, Rizzo, that's true. But the homeless are not concentrated in Chicago like they are in Grand Rapids. And you can find particular areas like Streeterville, where the homeless are a little more prevalent, that have seen a lack of development as well.

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Gentrification would force the homeless elsewhere anyway.

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They're going to be downtown one way or another. If you don't have transportation you have to live where things are close together. I just don't see a shelter in the suburbs with parking out front and green lawns attracting the homeless out of downtown. The land values maybe be 5x the value of suburban land, but what good is that if you can't even serve their purpose of serving the homeless? Maybe if the missions moved south of the S-Curve and lived next to Mark London's club we could concentrate the "undesirable" downtown uses.

I'm not sure what GRDad's response to the Proverbs was for. What does working poor versus homeless and likely addicted poor have to do with anything? People in need are people in need.

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this will sound bad and will prob be deleted but take it light-heartedly... My friend and I were talking once about this (mind you I was prob. 15 at the time) and we came up with a solution (if you can call it that).... pay the homeless to shovel white clean snow on top of the dirty nasty snow that accumulates on the side of the road, in return they will be given a weekly stipend of rent (like a dormitory) and food (at a cafeteria) as well as real job placement.... now i know this sounds stupid but if you relly think about it , its killing two birds with one stone (we all ahte that nasty black snow (its quite depressing)). chew on that!

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You guys make it sound like moving missions is an easy thing to do, that they all have the money to just up and move. Some of these missions are quite large, and serve hundreds of people, and cannot be easily moved mostly because they don't make any profits, so they can't move. A few of the missions are so large that they couldn't be moved without a multi-million dollar gift coming from somewhere. To move every single mission in heart side would take at least 100 possibly 200 million dollars.

Its nice to come up with "Oh they should just move" scenarios, but people forget to ask the "How could it happen?" Question, and "Why would they want to move?"

Who is going to foot the multi million dollar bill of moving the largest missions? You? Me? Dick Devos? Peter Secchia? Fred Meijer? The government? (Well probably not, these are religious organizations)

Some of the comments I've read here make me sick to my stomach. regardless of how you put your minds around it these are people too. Homeless people aren't cattle that can just be moved to another pasture. Like it or not the missions are staying, and I am glad they are.

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People can lay all the self-righteousness, WWJD and "Hitler-esque" comparisons at my feet that they want, but you won't change my opinion. For some reason, we all seem very willing to accept behavior like urinating in public, or making assaulting gestures toward young women, property damage, and a number of other unruly actions because they are "out of sight, out of mind" and the "missions will take care of these people". But I guarantee if some guy with urine-stained clothes and wacked out on heroine were standing in your front yard harassing your spouse or your kids, and peeing on your car, I don't think many would be inviting the guy in for coffee to help him through his problems. Or if it were a friend of yours doing these things, you'd probably want to punch his lights out. But strangely, if they do that kind of thing between Wealthy and Oakes, Sheldon and Commerce, then it's OK? And it's "compassionate" to keep them corralled in that area?

If some of these people have mental problems like psychzophrenia, bi-polarism, chronic depression, or other conditions because they were kicked out of the state mental hospitals that were closed down, how does sitting through a religious sermon help them? They should be getting real help. If it's substance abuse, why are they not being given a real helping hand in a detox center instead of hanging out in an environment surrounded by other substance abusers?

I don't have a problem with missions and shelters for those who are really down on their luck and have no place to live, but do they have to be all in one block? There are plenty of places around the city that are near bus lines.

BTW: I'm not closing down this topic because I think it gets swept under the rug too often.

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I've worked in the Heartside for almost 8 years now. In that time things have changed A LOT. But i always find myself asking - have things changed for the better because somebody's found a solution, or have things changed because of gentrification? The problem is still here, it's just getting pushed farther south. And with development now coming up from the south of Heartside, what's next?

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People can lay all the self-righteousness, WWJD and "Hitler-esque" comparisons at my feet that they want, but you won't change my opinion. For some reason, we all seem very willing to accept behavior like urinating in public, or making assaulting gestures toward young women, property damage, and a number of other unruly actions because they are "out of sight, out of mind" and the "missions will take care of these people". But I guarantee if some guy with urine-stained clothes and wacked out on heroine were standing in your front yard harassing your spouse or your kids, and peeing on your car, I don't think many would be inviting the guy in for coffee to help him through his problems. Or if it were a friend of yours doing these things, you'd probably want to punch his lights out. But strangely, if they do that kind of thing between Wealthy and Oakes, Sheldon and Commerce, then it's OK? And it's "compassionate" to keep them corralled in that area?

If some of these people have mental problems like psychzophrenia, bi-polarism, chronic depression, or other conditions because they were kicked out of the state mental hospitals that were closed down, how does sitting through a religious sermon help them? They should be getting real help. If it's substance abuse, why are they not being given a real helping hand in a detox center instead of hanging out in an environment surrounded by other substance abusers?

I don't have a problem with missions and shelters for those who are really down on their luck and have no place to live, but do they have to be all in one block? There are plenty of places around the city that are near bus lines.

BTW: I'm not closing down this topic because I think it gets swept under the rug too often.

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http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-1...ess-cover_x.htm

"HUD defines a chronically homeless person as "an unaccompanied individual with a disabling condition" who has been continuously homeless for a year or more, or has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years.

The USA TODAY analysis of the count done for HUD showed that these hardest-to-help men and women make up 25% of the homeless, surpassing previous estimates of 10%-15%. Families with children make up 42% of the total, according to the analysis."

This 2005 article had Michigan #5 in homeless people. The mentally ill and substance abusers are 25% of the total. More than 50% of the rest are families with childern and they represent the fastest growing segment. Bahavior issues of the 25% should be handled by appropriate authorities under existing laws. The other 75% should not be punished because of the actions of the few.

As for the great value of the property, everything has a price and the missions might relocate if the right price was offered. The historic Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago has been located in the 600 block of S. State Street since 1877. They are moving to allow the expansion of a public school and to enhance their ability to serve. http://pgmofferinghope.org/building.html I assume they were paid very well for their property.

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If some of these people have mental problems like psychzophrenia, bi-polarism, chronic depression, or other conditions because they were kicked out of the state mental hospitals that were closed down, how does sitting through a religious sermon help them? They should be getting real help. If it's substance abuse, why are they not being given a real helping hand in a detox center instead of hanging out in an environment surrounded by other substance abusers?

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