As Mel Trotter opens a facility in the Heartside neighborhood at 250 Ionia Ave SW as an emergency winter shelter and warming center, Fox 17 says the City of Grand Rapids will start enforcing the “no camping” rule that's in effect for all Grand Rapids city parks.

According to Fox 17, Mel Trotter and Guiding Light worked with the city of Grand Rapids and Evergreen Companies to secure the space on Ionia.  After securing the permits needed and completing their setup, officials hope to have the emergency shelter open by week’s end.

Steve Guitar, the spokesperson for the City of Grand Rapids told Fox 17,

“The decision to do this now is because funds have been made available and will collaborate with community partners, new shelter capacity is available. It is also timely with increasing cold and unsafe winter weather.”

Camping in city parks hasn't been allowed at any time, but Steve says that they haven't enforced the rule as of yet, because there wasn't anywhere to send those people who are staying in the camps.  Now that there are open beds and other resources for those in need, the rule will start being enforced as soon as the shelter opens.

He also told Fox 17 that outreach teams have been interacting with anyone who’s been camping in the Heartside park to let them know about the upcoming enforcement and resources available at the emergency shelter location.

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