Owosso, MI (Great Lakes News) – The homeless population in Shiawassee County have had few places to call their own, but that will soon change.
Homeless Angels will open a permanent shelter in Owosso this month. The Lansing-based non-profit spent several years renovating the building and fundraising. This weekend is their last-minute rally to assemble bunk beds, clean, and finish final preparations.
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Tim Baise, who founded Homeless Angels along with his wife, Tracie, knows a thing or two about ministering to the homeless. He has helped hundreds of people with his Lansing-based Homeless Angels hotel for the past three years.
“We want to make it as homey as we can while they are here,” Baise said.
The Owosso facility can house 28 people, which includes men, women, and families. Two living room areas along with several shower facilities, a laundry room, and a commercial kitchen are available. All residence rooms and the bathrooms are fitted with electronic locks. Even those who aren’t staying at the facility are welcome to take a shower or run a load of laundry.
That is the beauty of Homeless Angels. It is not meant to be a destination, but a stop on the way to a better life. Baise said Homeless Angels works to lead its temporary residents into permanent housing and jobs.
“We’re a shelter, but we’re also more,” Baise said. “Sometimes people need proper I.D. or they don’t know what assistance programs they qualify for. Our client coordinators work with them.”
Homeless Angels also employs substance abuse and career counselors. “We want to help them with what they need to complete the circle,” Baise said. “That way, they don’t come back.”
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An organization like Homeless Angels has been desperately needed in Shiawassee County for decades. Marlene Webster, pastor of City Church of Owosso and coordinator of Shiawassee Hope said area pastors have tried for years to reach out to the homeless in Owosso.
“We did not have the resources the Baises had to give,” Webster said. “I know that my church and many churches are excited to volunteer and prepare meals for the shelter. The need is there.”
Another outreach organization in town, Angel Hands, has given what operator Christial Sierra calls a “hand up” to homeless people in Owosso for several years.
“We go out in woods [where they live] three times a week and take them baby wipes, help them clean up, check their tents, replace bedding, and take clothing [to wash],” said Sierra. “Several pastors are now going with us and taking hot meals.”
Sierra and her volunteers have seen first-hand the giant gap between the haves and the have nots in her town. “We’re going to keep doing what we do and refer to people to Homeless Angels,” Sierra said. “The need is prevalent, and the funding is limited. Whether people are sleeping in the woods or couch surfing, this mission is crucial.”
Baise said his drive to give Homeless Angels a permanent set-up in Owosso is directly tied to his Christian faith.
“Many people are in a desperate situation,” Baise said. “The Bible says to feed and clothe those who need it and that’s what Homeless Angels is doing. I am passionate about helping people.”
They do not stop there. Homeless Angels also provides periodic “Dinner in the Park” events for anyone in the area in need of a hot meal. They are also calling on churches and individuals to become sponsors for “Sleep Over Safely.” The Homeless Angels building is already bought and paid for, but they need 600 sponsors to pledge $19 per month to maintain utilities and food funding.
“If we can get that, this will go on forever,” Baise said.