Former Jackson Bible Institute seen as potential ‘trauma-informed’ refuge
JACKSON, MI – A former missionary Bible college on the east side of Jackson could become a homelessness center under a plan being considered by the Jackson County United Way.
United Way officials are considering purchasing the former Ethnos360 Bible Institute, 1210 E. Michigan Ave., although some residents in the neighborhood say they are concerned about the impact of such a project on their area.
Ken Toll, United Way president and CEO, said he sees an increased need for housing solutions that go beyond Jackson’s interfaith shelter due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“(The city has) a list of over 1000 people who would be deported if (the deportation) moratorium was not in place, ”Toll said. “If this moratorium is relaxed or released, we are going to have a massive crush of needs in this city. We know it’s coming. It’s already there but it’s getting worse.
The solution, Centraide suggests, is a trauma-informed approach in homeless shelters.
United Way wants to use a template designed by Helping Hands Oregon re-entry centers, which recently opened a center in an unused jail near Portland. These centers provide shelter with comprehensive services in the building which lasts an average of 45 days.
The facilities have services in the building, such as vocational training, life skills courses, childcare. The idea is that housing-focused social services can tackle homelessness by identifying and addressing the trauma that led to it, Toll said.
“The point is, come in and you’ll have a hot meal and a waiting bed,” he says. “But also, that we would work quickly enough to determine if that person is ready to go through the whole program and if not, I don’t think their time there would be brief, but there would be certainly an incentive to comply and deal with their needs. “
Everyone hired at the center would go through an initial assessment first and would have to pay a membership fee, although there is a sliding scale.
“Residents are expected to put some skin in the game,” Toll said. “Then once they start working and earning an income, they’ll start paying more of that membership fee, so when they leave, they’ll be used to paying rent.”
United Way identified the property – the former East Intermediate School – because the Bible Institute had previously outfitted the building with dorms, classrooms, laundry services and more. Toll estimates he could possibly have as many as 300 beds.
The United Way can also buy a dozen homes in the neighborhood around the facility – which the Bible Institute has done to provide additional housing for its students and faculty – if it manages to secure sufficient funding. Toll said they could be used as a venue for people who have already completed the facility’s treatment program and need affordable housing.
But some in the nearby Henry Ford Allegiance Health neighborhood fear the unintended consequences of a large-scale homeless shelter. Jackson resident Kay Fennimore said she and her husband bought their home near Forest Avenue and Edgewood Street in 1967 and feared such a large project would “saturate the neighborhood” with non-housing. planned for the single-family zone.
As a retired nurse married to a retired member of the Jackson Police Department, Fennimore said she was not opposed to services that help people. She is concerned, however, that the size and scope of this project will negatively affect property values.
“I just don’t want to see all the homes in my neighborhood turned into something they never wanted to be,” Fennimore said.
Toll brushed aside this concern. Communities will end up saving money by tackling the housing crisis, as this will help people become less dependent on social services and reduce the impact on the criminal justice system, he said. He also expects the safety of the neighborhood to remain the same, as additional services are in place and people would not be required to leave during the day.
“Because we would treat people with a trauma-informed approach, the conflict we have is minimal,” Toll said. “People are really motivated to follow the rules because they think they really have a chance – ‘These people get me, and I’m actually going to work hard because I think for once I’m going to get the kind of ‘help and assistance what I need.’ “
Costs for the project have yet to be determined, Toll said.
The property is listed for $ 7.5 million, real estate sites show. United Way expects to have an offer in the coming weeks and could launch as early as this summer, Toll said, adding that he wanted to use grants and other funding to develop the project.
Jackson Mayor Derek Dobies said the city was looking for ways to help and facilitate collaboration between local nonprofits to process funding, such as through grants or “restructuring. creative financial ”.
“We are supporting the fight against homelessness in a way that approaches trauma in a very compassionate way and also addresses housing stability in the city,” Dobies said. “We’re interested in exploring what can be done to anchor this in a physical location that can serve as a collaborative space for a set of these enveloping services. There is incredible energy behind this work.
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