2009 Wuerffel Trophy Recipient Tim Hiller and wife Michelle, chaired a capital campaign to lead the expansion
KALAMAZOO, MI — The emergency homeless shelter in Kalamazoo plans to build a new facility for women and children in spring 2020 to accommodate the growing demographic.
The Kalamazoo Gospel Mission, recently rebranded as Kalamazoo Gospel Ministries, has an emergency shelter and a longer-term, supportive shelter for people in need. Both shelters are separated by gender.
The women and children’s shelter was previously in its own building, but that building was vacated for health and safety concerns. Parts of that building have been unusable for years, with issues including water damage, and it was fully vacated after a fire in summer 2018.
Women and children have been temporarily moved to the second floor of the building that houses men, said John Simpson, the ministry’s chief operations officer.
The decision to close the women’s shelter has resulted in tighter quarters. Pastor Michael Brown, president and CEO of the ministry, said he is looking forward to the space the new facilities will bring back. The ministry serves 80% of Kalamazoo’s homeless population, Brown said.
“We’re excited to get the new building up and get back into spaces so we can breathe again,” he said.
The number of people using the shelter increased in December 2019 when compared to numbers from December 2018, Simpson said. Men utilizing the shelter was up 4% and the number of women and children was up 11% in December.
Numbers fluctuate day to day, Simpson said. But, on average, the shelter houses 325 people each night at its North Burdick Street facility in downtown Kalamazoo, he said. The mission has space for a total of 475 guests, but operates under a philosophy that no one should be turned away and can create more space if the need arose, Simpson said. He added that the ministry also has a network of other agencies to help with capacity needs if necessary.
The design for the new 4,700-square-foot, three-story building includes a good Samaritan room on the first floor, with cots for single women needing emergency shelter.