Holland woman hopes to add homeless shelter to church

A local woman is trying to house homeless boys in Holland at her church.

HOLLAND, MICH. - Homelessness is an issue that Holland Public Schools officials say is prevalent with dozens of students who are attempting to stay in school all while dealing with homelessness.

One local Holland woman is hoping to help these students out.

"We have a problem that we're not accustomed to having," Holland resident Susan Gray said.

Homelessness is a circumstance plaguing less than 200 students in the Holland Public Schools District.

"As soon as I heard our numbers within our school district I decided, we got extra space. It doesn't make sense to have kids out in gazebos at night or couch hopping when they could have supervision," Gray said.

Gray bought a church on West 20th St. and Maple Ave. about a year ago. She has decided to try and utilize the extra rooms as a place to house homeless Ottawa County boys.

"These kids need to be surrounded by people who care about them."

On Tuesday, Sept. 12, Gray took the first step in getting a shelter open. She was granted a study session in front of the City Planning Commission next month.

"I am certain that the neighborhood, the community has its concerns," she said. "We do plan on approaching this with great care. We are cognizant of values and not disturbing what we have here. We love our community, and we want to take children in and care for them so they're not destructive to our neighborhoods."

If the city were to approve this shelter, it would be the first facility in Ottawa County that would take in unaccompanied homeless youth. Right now, those children have to go to Grand Rapids for a shelter.

The Planning Commission will discuss the idea at their study session on Oct.10.

If you have concerns or want to help out with the process, you can contact Susan Grey at (616) 928-8574.

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