Pastors of two St. Louis churches are working to establish two shelters collectively called Hope House to accommodate an estimated 450 homeless folk in Gratiot County. They hope to be up and running by Jan. 7.
Pastor Jake Gregory of St. Louis Church of the Nazarene (on M-46 west of the bridge), plans to convert the church basement into a shelter for people who are on the list for subsidized HUD housing (much of which is also located in St. Louis). “A proposed design includes three suites,” according to the group’s business plan. “Two suites will house up to six people each and one suite could house up to two people. The design also includes a community kitchen and living space and the addition of two showers.”
These will function much like apartments, Gregory said. He envisions homeless families in this space, some of whom have children in St. Louis Schools, said Superintendent Kristi Teall. The families would reside there gratis while awaiting vacancies at HUD housing.
The “rotational” arm of Hope House will be run by Pastor Nathan Workman of St. Louis First Church of God (on Olive Street).
It will follow a model similar to that of Isabella County Restoration House and ROTATE shelter functions through participating churches. Each church will house the shelter for up to two weeks at a time. This shelter will be open from Nov. 1 to April 1. Residents will be required to leave during the day.
“For the first season if we could get 10-12 churches that would be great,” Gregory said.
In addition to being in the rotation, the St. Louis First Church of God will serve as a day shelter. It will be open year-round.
Homeless people in Gratiot County are not sleeping on sewer grates in cardboard boxes or under freeway overpasses, Gregory said. Some have cars that they are living in. Others are “couch surfing” with friends. Some live in campgrounds. Or multiple families might occupy one home. These are all counted as homeless.
Background checks will be performed on all prospective clients to screen out criminals and pedophiles
Gregory believes Hope House will enable clients to address the issues responsible for their homelessness, such as budgeting and addictions. “If we get people housed and take care of basic necessities they’re freed up to address those other areas,” he said.
Although Hope House is still awaiting approval from Church of Nazarene’s Michigan District, Gregory said church trustees were on board from the start. “There wasn’t a lot of convincing to do,” he said. “It has become the heartbeat and the vision of the church. It’s in our DNA at this point.”
But it doesn’t have to be just a church endeavor. Gregory said groups such as 4H, FFA and Scouts are welcome to volunteer. “It isn’t just a church thing,” he said. “It’s a community thing.”
You can start by liking Hope House on Facebook: facebook.com/gchopehouse. If you want to donate money, there’s a button for it there.
For more information, send and email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 989-572-0758.