Man working to reopen homeless shelter

Published: Apr. 6, 2018 at 5:35 PM EDT
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Jackson has a severe shortage of homeless shelter beds. But hopefully not for long.

News 10's Alani Letang spoke with Derry Petty from Grace Haven organization working to re-open up one of its shelters.

Grace Haven's main shelter on 1040 Francis St closed its doors in 2013. All three of its buildings are on the verge of going into tax foreclosure. The other locations are located at 1034 Williams St.1024 Francis St. in Jackson, MI.

Now Derry is digging into his own pockets to save the main building he calls the mothership.

"It was kind of disturbing when I saw that letter from the city that they wanted to buy the properties and put it on their proposed demolition list, I said 'no' every time I look at this building I'm like this building could be used for the better good," said Derry Petty, Grace Haven board member.

That building is needed because Jackson only has one shelter that services men, women, and families.

"But I know they can't take in everyone," said Derry. There is one other shelter in Jackson for those victims and survivors of domestic violence.

Derry started a GoFundMe to help pay the property taxes on the 1040 Francis St location. He kicked in almost a thousand dollars of his own and got another $1,400 in donations. The total amount that he turned into the county, he said was $2,374. "I've been getting a lot of support from those who've known Grace Haven for the last 30 years, they've known somebody who's stayed here before," said Derry.

Derry is tackling this project in memory of his late grandmother who was CEO of Grace Haven from 1991 to 2013.

He said, "she has worked so hard, and I believe my grandmother never paid herself a salary."

Grace Haven is more than a shelter, Derry Petty said the doors are open for other programs and resources that people can take advantage of. "Keep her legacy going where she had toys for tots, she had other programs like resume job skills training," said Derry.

Before he turned in the money to the county to save the mothership from foreclosure, he stopped by his grandmother's grave.

"I know she's probably looking down on me from Heaven, smiling at me and saying 'grandson I am so proud of you and yes don't let them take this property, open the shelter back up and let's get back to serving the people here which is the homelessness,'" said Derry.

Derry hopes to have the shelter open within a year, and it will house up to 15 people. He told News 10 the structure is fine but it needs new paint inside and some of the windows have to be replaced.