Homeless, but not helpless

Shelters for men are a necessity in Big Rapids

I recently saw an older gentleman holding a sign in Big Rapids labeled “Hungry, will work for food.” While this wasn’t the first time I had come across the stranger, his reoccurrences throughout the city had become of concern to me. As I began to ask local business owners within the city, a number of them also reported seeing homeless men frequently visiting their establishments.

Growing up in Detroit, the sight of homelessness was a familiarity on the streets of downtown.

However, emergency centers such as Doorstep, the Coalition on Temporary Shelter and the Salvation Army were readily available resources for those in need.

As societal economic hardships continue and the weather changes, I found myself asking what local shelters were available for homeless single men in Big Rapids.

Though Women’s Information Services provides resources for women in need, economic and environmental struggles aren’t strictly gender based. As a Big Rapids community member, I see a need for equal housing resources for both men and women.

Statistically, nearly 60 percent of the homeless population is composed of single men. However, homeless shelters available to single men in Big Rapids appear to be a lacking resource.

Shelters provide a base for those in need to get financial stability. They also often provide resources such as employment opportunities and housing guides to assist in the transition of independent living. Church pantries and seasonal donations are a good resource for homeless single men, but don’t replace the need for temporary housing.

Homelessness is a social problem that requires community resources such as shelters to remedy its underlying issues of addiction, economic instability, lack of healthcare and domestic violence.

It’s better to give someone a chance than to give change. A homeless shelter in Big Rapids for male residents may be the chance needed for those struggling financially to get back on their feet. n