Short-Term Shelter for Women Closing, Long Term Programs Continue
(Lara Mossa, Dec. 19, 2019)
PONTIAC, MI -Grace Centers of Hope will remain open providing long-term care for troubled families, but the 30-day emergency program will close tomorrow.
Once known as Pontiac Rescue Mission and founded in 1942, the shelter has transformed from a facility that simply clothes, feeds and shelters homeless people to one that provides long-term care for people, most often with substance abuse disorders, explained Kent Clark, Chief Executive Officer of Grace Centers of Hope and Pastor of Grace Gospel Fellowship. The nonprofit organization notified staff in November and residents in early December that the emergency shelter will close.
Other local agencies have stepped up to find homes for the approximately 10 women and children currently in the center, and they all had the option to enter the long-term care program, Clark said.
“These women and children are not going to be put out on the street this Christmas season,” Clark said. “It’s not going to happen.”
With a $6 million annual budget provided solely by the private sector, Grace Centers of Hope had to cut $80,000 this year because of decreased giving. The charity started talking about the cutbacks in August. Although he would have preferred to keep the emergency shelter open into January, the organization had no choice but to close its doors, Clark said.
“That’s the weakest link in what we do,” Clark added. “We’re about people helping people long-term. I was not going to hurt the long-term program by taking dollars out of the long-term program.”
All located in Pontiac, Grace Centers of Hope has about 60 facilities including 53 houses, a women’s shelter, a child care center, a church and educational building. Describing it as a faith-based organization, Grace Centers of Hope helps addicts become drug free, return to school or work, reunite families and eventually have home ownership, Clark explained. There are approximately 300 to 400 people in the program.
“It’s never a light-hearted thing” Clark said. “I wish we could save the world. But charitable organizations have to be run in a business way.”
There is always the chance the 30-day to 90-day emergency shelter on Huron Street will reopen.
“There is a need for emergency care in Pontiac, but we put long-term care first,” Clark said.
He went on to say that this is an important time for giving.
“Grace Centers is not shutting its doors. We’re open, and we want people to give if they can and look at Grace Centers of Hope in a positive way. We believe we’re going to see great things in the coming year.”
To fill the need, three Oakland County non-profit organizations who moved quickly to assist homeless women and children put at risk by the closing of Grace Centers of Hope in Pontiac. HOPE shelter, Lighthouse of Oakland County, and the South Oakland Shelter will provide food and housing for these individuals and families.
“Our community stepped up and solved a crisis, and we applaud them for their leadership,” County Executive David Coulter said. “This crisis reinforces our collective effort to address homelessness on a comprehensive and long-term basis.”
Through the leadership of State Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D-District 12) and State Rep. Brenda Carter (D-District 29), Oakland County is receiving a $250,000 state grant to create a Blueprint to End Homelessness. In 2020, the Oakland County Executive working with the Board of Commissioners will release a request for proposal to develop and implement a comprehensive solution to the root causes of homelessness.
“Oakland County must ensure opportunity to everyone in all parts of our county and housing, like food and water, is a basic human right. Oakland County is undertaking a collaboration with community leaders to create the plan and leverage the resources necessary to address homelessness,” Coulter said.
In 2018, there were 2,968 individuals experiencing homelessness in Oakland County. The Department of Housing and Urban Development defines an individual or family experiencing homelessness as one who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. Homelessness also impacts Oakland County children who account for 26 percent of persons experiencing homelessness. For more details about homelessness in Oakland County, read the Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness’ 2018 Annual Report for MICHIGAN.