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Poor and homeless people in Muskegon may soon have access to much-needed resources

The Muskegon Rescue Mission is looking to expand.

MUSKEGON, Mich — The need for resources for homeless and poor people in parts of West Michigan is unfortunately growing. 

"There's a couple of major needs that are major barriers to people moving out of homelessness," said Dan Skoglund, the Executive Director of the Muskegon Rescue Mission.

"One that they have is moving around the community to connect with various resources. It can take hours an hours for them just to get to an appointment," he said. 

The mission is trying to expand to help offset that obstacle. Their goal is to acquire a vacant piece of city-owned land just north of their Men's Shelter. It's on 7th Street between Laketon and Larch avenues.

"The Rescue Mission was interested in that property for many years," said City Manager Frank Peterson. "They couldn't come up with the upfront costs to tear down the contaminated dilapidated buildings that were there."

So the city spent $250,000 to do that demolition work. They say it was an investment. 

"We did it with the intention of selling or giving some of the property to the Rescue Mission to help further some of the things they wanted to do in the community," Peterson said.

"Our goal with this property is to build a community center where we can have outside agencies there at various times throughout the week so now people can connect with resources in one central hub," said Skoglund.

They also plan to build a daycare and preschool which would cost market rate at most and could even be free depending on the needs of each family.

"The kids are getting that foundational piece and are ready as they enter the schools and they're able to excel," Skoglund said.

City leaders don't anticipate too many snags in transferring the property to the Muskegon Rescue Mission. 

"We'll transfer the property for a dollar in return for them developing things they're going to develop there," Peterson said.

The City Commission is expected to take up the issue at one of their meetings in February. Once the plan is approved, the mission will start working with developers.

"We have a vision and a concept. We know what we want the building to look like and how it will function. We haven't drawn up plans yet because we don't have the property yet," Skoglund said.

He also said it's hard at this point to come up with a timeline for construction, but he's excited to see what the future holds. 

"As believers, we believe we're called to help people. To help them find their way in life. Our goal is to move people out of homelessness. To see them be able to sustain themselves in society," he said.

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