Lansing organization breaks ground on new runaway and homeless youth shelter
A Lansing organization is transforming a former hospital on the city’s south side into a shelter for runaway and homeless youth.
With a shovel in hand, Child and Family Charities CEO Julie Thomasma broke ground Tuesday on renovations to Jackson House. The shelter is at the former site of McLaren Greater Lansing Hospital.
“This is the culmination of so much hard work to get us to this point today," she added.
Currently, the organization is able to provide shelter space for up to 14 youth. Thomasma says Jackson House will allow the organization to double the amount of youth it can shelter.
Right now, the organization operates two separate shelter spaces. This new building will allow them to combine the shelters into a single space.
"We just want to make sure that we get them off the street and get them into a safe house so that they are not at risk for human trafficking, and they're getting the services that they need," Thomasma added.
As of January 2020, Michigan had an 484 unaccompanied young adults who were experiencing homelessness, unstable housing or sleeping at friends' houses according to data from the Continuum of Care Program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Thomasma said in mid-Michigan, its unclear how many runaway and homeless youth there are on a given day.
"And often they're just kids that are kind of falling through the cracks," she added.
Jackson National Life Insurance Company contributed nearly $1 million dollars to the project. Danielle Robinson with Jackson National spearheaded the partnership.
"If I could think of all of the things that Child and Family Charities does right and I could put my finger on one thing, it would be effective collaboration better than anyone else," Robinson said. "They work with others in the community to fill the needs."
Thomasma says she’s hoping doors to the new shelter can be open by the end of the year.
Child and Family Charities supports thousands of individuals of all ages and needs every year.