MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN)- Multiple churches in the Marquette area have been working together for about fourteen years to help provide shelter for those who do not have homes.
This is a collaborative effort between Room at the Inn and eight churches: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, First Presbyterian Church, Marquette Hope (First), St. Louis The King, St. Michael Catholic Church, Unitarian Universalist, St. Christopher Catholic Church, Messiah Lutheran.
The churches rotate week-to-week as emergency shelters for the homeless community, and there are no qualifications for those who need shelter.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer has declared November as Homeless Awareness Month.
This year a new system has been put into place. People will eat dinner at the Warming Center and then the church on duty that week will provide shelter until 6 a.m. the following day and breakfast will be provided at the Warming Center as well.
Coordinator for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Kayla West, stated that the highest number for those who stayed under the shelters of the churches last week was 33 people, and continues to rise.
According to the state of Michigan, more than 65,000 citizens throughout Michigan experienced homelessness last year.
Although the Campaign to End Homelessness has helped bring a 17 percent decrease from 2016 to 2018 in the number of youths aged 18-24 who were homeless, West has noticed an increase in homelessness in rural Upper Michigan, especially in Marquette.
“Communities that are successful will have people that come together and all the different components of homeless services are able to collaborate, communicate, and mobilize together to get people housed. We haven’t done enough of that in Marquette. We’re about ten years behind everyone else,” said West.
About 80 percent of the people the churches provide shelter for in Marquette deal with mental health and addiction issues.
Last year 160 people have gone through the system and 25 people actually staying overnight. The average length of stay was about a month. West said this is proof that a lot of people are in transition.
Room at the Inn will also kick-off Homeless Awareness Week (Nov. 16 through Nov. 24) with a variety of events.
“When we’re talking about the issue of homelessness locally what we want to do is identify what the scope is. Right here at the Room at the Inn we’re serving about 25 to 30 people a night, providing them shelter through our rotating churches. The important thing to remember is that bigger cities like Seattle have up to 11,000 homeless people. We’re talking about 25-30. We have the opportunity here to get ahead of the issue. The first key piece to that is getting the community educated. That’s why I want everyone to come to these events,” said Nicholas Emmendorfer, executive director of Room at the Inn.