THURSDAY, Sept. 10 — Additional space could be available soon for those struggling with homelessness as the City Rescue Mission of Lansing charts expansion in the 600 block of Michigan Avenue.
Director Mark Criss told City Pulse today about early plans to expand the Rescue Mission’s existing men’s shelter into the two buildings to the west of the shelter in the 600 block of Michigan Avenue. It is just across the street from the grocery store, hotel and apartments being built in Lansing’s Stadium District.
“We’ve been here since 1948, and downtown is where we need to be,” Criss explained. “We’re looking to expand services, and this would allow us to make that happen by increasing capacity for our men’s shelter on Michigan Avenue. We can also improve bathrooms and showers and increase the size of our chapel and our dining room. We’re really still busy making all the plans.”
The Rescue Mission purchased a vacant law office at 605 E. Michigan Ave. (and the empty loft apartments above it) last month to the immediate west of the mission. Criss also said plans are underway to buy the neighboring vacant commercial building at 603 E. Michigan Ave.
Tenants still live inside that building, but they’re expected to vacate by the end of the month. From there, renovations could take another few years as the mission opens its “next chapter” following a 2010 renovation of a school for the current women and children’s center, Criss said.
The two-building expansion is a sign that at least the Rescue Mission is here to stay, Criss said.
“We’ve never felt pressure to move out of downtown,” Criss clarified. It’s where we belong.”
Criss said the expansion plans weren’t set to be announced for a few months as he locks down financing, appraisals and exact plans for the upcoming renovations. For now, the men’s shelter can hold 80 guests. Criss still isn’t sure how many will be able to move in after the construction.
Earlier this year, at least two or three dozen people in Lansing were camped out at parks and wooded knolls as homeless shelters reached capacity. The Rescue Mission’s expansion plans are designed to help offer additional services to a wider audience over the next few years.
The Rescue Mission serves about 85,000 meals — mainly breakfasts and dinners — every year. Additionally, 175 men, women and children are sheltered every day of the year, offering a combined total of about 64,000 nights of shelter provided during a typical year at full capacity.
The nonprofit also spends about 85% of its $2.1 million in annual expenditures on programs and services, leaving only about 15% for administration and marketing, according to its website.