LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The Lansing City Rescue Mission is asking for help in purchasing and developing a new building to house the area’s homeless population.

Currently, the agency operates two shelter locations – a men’s shelter on Michigan Ave. and a Women and Children’s Shelter on S. Cedar St. – but the growing population of people without housing has placed increased pressure on the agency. It also runs an outreach center where people who are homeless can get respite from the streets for a time.

“it’s always been a challenge but it’s become an increasing challenge trying to find affordable housing today which increases the number of people in our community being homeless,” says Mark Criss, executive director of the Lansing City Rescue Mission.

Susan Cancro, executive director of Advent House, the agency that is overseeing the response to homelessness in the community, says there has been a 300 % increase in the number of homeless people in the last year.

And that increase is being felt by Criss’ organization as well.

“The City Rescue Mission serves over 250 people a night,” Criss says. “A couple of nights ago we had 277 people — men, women, and children — staying at our three facilities. So, I would say about three years ago our average was 133. So it’s more than doubled in a few years.”

Criss says with that many people needing shelter each night, the agency has to turn people away. Combine that with the lack of affordable and safe housing, and people experiencing homelessness are also caught in the shelter system longer.

“Now it takes a little bit longer to get their own place,” Criss tells 6 News. “Not just two or three months, it could be 5 to 6 months to find something they can afford that they can rent or purchase.”

The proposed expansion on Kalamazoo St. would dramatically increase the number of people the agency can shelter each night.

“To expand on West Kalamazoo Street, to go from 100 men to 200 men from about 50 single adult women to 100 single adult women,” says Criss. “So we’d have 300 adults at this one location. So all together within a couple years from about 250 on average to about 450 to 500 people within a couple years.”

The Lansing City Council will hold a public hearing on Monday, Sept. 18, at 7 p.m. to consider re-zoning the properties on Kalamazoo St. as well as issuing a special land use permit to allow the Mission to relocate there.