Efforts to expand a homeless shelter in Cadillac have been put on hold after public opposition. New Hope Shelter has five locations in the Cadillac area, including shelters for men, women and families.
The organization was planning to move its men’s shelter to a larger building near the downtown to meet growing demand for beds, but opponents had a number of complaints. Among them, opponents said the location would negatively affect Cadillac’s downtown revitalization efforts and was not in line with Cadillac's master plan.
Stephen King, an attorney in Cadillac who helped lead the opposition, says he is very supportive of New Hope Shelter but the location was not appropriate.
"This would have put the shelter right at the end of a residential neighborhood where there is elderly housing – both condominiums and assisted living," says King. "And it was for a men's shelter ... And the director acknowledged publicly, they cannot refuse convicted felons, sex offenders, etc. under their regulations."
After the public pushback, New Hope Shelter withdrew its offer to buy the building. Brenda Wright, the executive director of the shelter, says the organization decided to cancel its plans because the homeless men they work with don't need the added negative scrutiny.
"Especially when they’re already in a position where they’re struggling to get their lives pulled back together," says Wright, "to find work, get income, get housing, get their lives back on track."
Wright says in the 25 years New Hope has been in the community, it has never received this kind of negative attention.
The organization is looking for a new location in the Cadillac area, though Wright says alternative options appear more expensive.