Leader of housing nonprofit resigns
The executive director of a local nonprofit working to end homelessness has announced she is resigning.
Tami VandenBerg, who’s led Grand Rapids-based Well House since 2012, says today in a letter on the nonprofit’s website she plans to resign, effective April 12.
“This has been a challenging decision for me, but the timing feels right for me personally and also for Well House,” VandenBerg says. “It’s been over five years since I became executive director to see if I could keep the organization from closing its doors.
“We’ve grown from a struggling, grassroots nonprofit to a leader in the movement to end homelessness in Grand Rapids. Thanks to your support, we have shown that even those who have been forgotten or written off can succeed in housing.”
In her letter, VandenBerg says during the past five years, the nonprofit’s budget has increased tenfold, and the staff worked together to move 190 people off the streets and into housing.
“It was (the staff’s) vision that helped us purchase and renovate 11 additional houses and transform seven vacant lots into food-growing spaces,” she says. “It was their leadership that employed 70 tenants on our farm or on our housing rehabs.
“My faith and confidence in the Well House staff and board convince me that we’ll be in good hands.”
VandenBerg says she plans to “stay engaged in housing advocacy for many years to come.”
“Nothing will give me greater pride and joy than to watch Well House grow, with your help, into a solution for so many more of our neighbors. Housing is the solution to homelessness — and we can end homelessness in Grand Rapids.”
With roots dating to 1977, Well House provides permanent, shared, low-cost housing for people experiencing homelessness.
The nonprofit has purchased and renovated 16 blighted properties in southeast Grand Rapids, turning them into housing and creating several accompanying urban gardens.
In 2017, the organization received a $265,125 grant from The Wege Foundation to launch a LEED-certified housing construction program that will teach green building skills to Well House tenants.