FLINT — Flint area women who need emergency shelter and housing for themselves and their children will soon have a new home.
Shelter of Flint will be moving to the Cedar Street Children’s Center near downtown Flint as the result of a gift from the Child Welfare Society of Flint. The Child Welfare Society will turn over the 21,000 square foot building and surrounding grounds as part of its reorganization.
The Child Welfare Society will remain a nonprofit organization and will continue its mission to help children throughout Flint and Genesee County.
Ten Flint women established the Child Welfare Society in 1915. For 35 years the Society provided residential care for children and for another 37 years offered day care at Cedar Street Children’s Center, a building built with money raised by the organization. This was one of the first day care facilities in the area and offered affordable care with a sliding fee scale.
Through this upcoming move, Shelter of Flint will consolidate its administrative office and shelter facility into one location. Priority Children, currently located in the Cedar Street Children’s Center, will re-locate to the Shelter of Flint administrative building on East Sixth Street. Shelter of Flint will also be gifting the shelter facility on Delaware Avenue to another local nonprofit.
Shelter of Flint and Priority Children will move offices in mid- April, with the emergency shelter moving to Cedar Street in late summer after the required renovations have been completed. Through this move, Shelter of Flint will expand its capacity for emergency shelter from 50 beds per night to roughly 75 beds per night. The consolidation will also reduce operating costs.
The leadership of Shelter of Flint is excited about the opportunity.
“This is a tremendous move for both organizations,” says Anne Grantner, Executive Director of Shelter of Flint. “We will be moving to a more central location, which will make it much easier for our clients to access additional community resources. It will also allow us to add more beds, which is critically important, and it is much more cost-effective than building a new building or adding on to our existing facility.”
This move makes sense from a resource perspective as well. None of the buildings will be left vacant: all will be fully utilized. This exchange is also demonstrating a “pay it forward” mentality among the cooperating nonprofit agencies involved. “The Shelter of Flint received its emergency shelter building as a gift,” explains Eric Gasper, board president of Shelter of Flint. “We are therefore gifting the building to another nonprofit, which will be announced soon, so that it will remain occupied and so that they can continue doing their important work.”
Homelessness is not a new problem, but it is a growing challenge for Flint. Forty percent of families who come to the Shelter of Flint are homeless for the first time. Sixty percent of the people who sleep in the emergency shelter each night are children under the age of 10.
Grantner explains, “We get calls every day from people who have either lost well-paying jobs, or who cannot make ends meet even though they are working two or even three jobs. Low-wage jobs and high unemployment have create a ‘perfect storm’ that is uprooting more people every day.”