In Response to the Closing of Encampments in Grand Rapids


Community Rebuilders is a national leader in ending homelessness and has had successful experience closing encampments.  

A few things we have learned:

  • People live outside when it is seen as the best available option
  • Encampments can become dangerous places due to lack of facilities for hygiene and lack of security
  • Restoring the streets to their intended purpose must go hand in hand with ensuring access to decent and safe housing accommodations and supports
  • People in encampments often form a community and a support system of friends and resources both internal and external to the encampment
  • An encampment is home for someone and loss of it is painful despite how bad the living conditions may be
  • When offered access to safe, decent, affordable housing and the supports needed to maintain it people consistently choose housing
  • Allowing the persons living in the encampment to take the lead in closing the encampment is essential to the timeline and meeting the needs necessary to close it. 
  • People that have lived in encampments report getting lots of support from housed persons- but not help getting housed. 
    • Furnish a home, not an encampment.
  • Emergency shelter or accommodations that don’t give people control over their time, belongings, access to foods, privacy, and schedule are not successful at moving people from houselessness to housing

Our Approach:

  1. We individually talk to the people who live in the encampment and learn what options they see as possible for their housing and what they think will help get them into a place to call home. We help them envision an exit strategy that results in housing of their choice. 
  2. We dedicate financial resources to temporary and long-term housing resources for the population living in the encampment
  3. We map the encampment:  how many people? What are their individual strengths and resources? What are their individual ideas about their housing situation? From there, we create individual housing plans in partnership.
  4. We address immediate health safety needs and help secure a safe secure place to say so that the daily focus on survival needs can be reduced and there is a space and time to think and work on a housing plan. 
  5. We walk side by side until each person secures housing of their choice.

So far in 2020, Community Rebuilders successfully helped 609 people across 352 households move from homelessness to housing of their choice. We believe everyone deserves a safe place to call home. We believe housing is a basic right and should be provided without prerequisites.

Our community must invest in strategies that increase resources that result in housing stability