Family Promise of GR prepares for influx of need

Posted: Jun 12, 2020 / 06:51 AM EDT Updated: Jun 12, 2020 / 06:51 AM EDT

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended the moratorium on evictions Thursday night, stretching it until June 30. But Family Promise of Grand Rapids is already preparing for the worst when it is eventually lifted. 

The group provides shelter and resources to families with children who face homelessness. Officials there have been keeping tabs on when the eviction moratorium would be lifted and say they’re ready to help in whatever way they can. 

“Right now, we are working with our families who are in their housing currently and trying to make sure they are connected to community resources, making sure they’ve got employment,” Kate O’Keefe, director of development at Family Promise said.  “How do we make sure they stay in their housing?”

Family Promise of Grand Rapids has 70 families from Kent County living in emergency shelter. That is double the number of families they typically serve at any given time. O’Keefe said the crisis doesn’t impact every community equally. 

“This housing crisis that West Michigan is currently in is disproportionately impacting persons of color. We know that 1 in 6 black children in our community are entering the homelessness system, compared to 1 in 130 white kids,” O’Keefe said.

She said they’re currently working with landlords to make things work, mediating things so that they don’t see an influx of homeless families when the moratorium on evictions is lifted. 

“We’re already pushed to the brink, we’re already at and above capacity,” O’Keefe said. “We can’t have families with kids on the street.”

Family Promise takes monetary and food donations to help families. People can donate — or find out how to help — on their website