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Homeless

Drawing of a Thanksgiving dinner on a table at the Mel Trotter Thanksgiving dinner.
Mel Trotter Ministry

Homeless, elderly and poor people in several cities in Michigan are being given a reason to be grateful on Thanksgiving.

The Detroit Rescue Mission is serving free food to homeless people and others in need at different locations in and around the city.

While the ministry has been around for 107 years, it has been doing Thanksgiving dinners for over 20 years.

Barbara Willis, the Chief Operating Officer for the Detroit Rescue Mission, said these dinners make a big difference to the homeless in the community.

Homeless man
SamPac / creative commons

The last residents in Lansing’s homeless hotel are moving out today.

The owners of the Magnuson hotel announced in August that they were evicting more than a hundred people. The owners said they were closing the south side hotel so it could be renovated. They gave the residents two weeks to move out.

“Most of the people have some type of disability or no jobs,” says Joan Jackson Johnson, Lansing’s director of Human Relations and Human Services. 

user Mitchell Haindfield / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Homelessness in Michigan is dropping.

That's according to a 2015 report by Ending Homelessness in Michigan. They found the number of homeless residents decreased by 6% in Michigan to 69,163 people.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

An Ingham County judge has issued a temporary restraining order blocking a Lansing hotel from evicting nearly 100 homeless people.  

The owners of the Magnuson Hotel say they want to close for needed renovations.

But the city of Lansing sought the injunction to delay the closing by up to 120 days, saying it needs that much time to relocate dozens of homeless men, women and children living there.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing’s mayor has taken the unusual step of declaring a housing emergency in the Capitol city.

Mayor Virg Bernero declared the emergency after a hotel on the city's south side informed dozens of residents they will be evicted in the next few weeks.

Funeral homes in the area make sure the veterans get a burial at the Great Lakes National Cemetery
flickr user abarndweller / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

It's impossible to know just how many homeless veterans are on America's streets.

The federal government estimates that there are nearly 50,000 vets who are homeless on any given night.

The National Coalition on Homeless Veterans tells us they've served in every conflict from World War II right up to Iraq and Afghanistan, although nearly half of homeless veterans served in Vietnam.

The reasons they are homeless are many: lack of affordable housing, inability to make a livable income, post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse.

Annie Green Springs / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Now that the city of Detroit has put bankruptcy in the rear-view mirror, it is able to start tackling its deepest problems.

One of those is getting all of the agencies that help the homeless on the same page and working to help homeless people in the city’s neighborhoods as well as downtown.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

Trinity Lutheran Church in Ann Arbor announced it will not put a temporary homeless camp on its' property this summer.

The pastor, Rev. Lori Carey, says they can't get insurance for it this year.

user anonymonous / Flickr

  The most recent count of Washtenaw County's homeless population through the Point in Time Count showed a 24 percent decrease in the number of people on the streets and in shelters since 2013. 

Below is a graph of the change in the homeless population of Washtenaw over the last three Point in Time Counts. 

cdc.gov / cdc.gov

As the weather gets colder, warming centers are opening their doors around the state.

In Flint, the Catholic Charities Holy Angels Warming Center runs 24/7, starting today through the end of March.

It’s not intended as a shelter, just a safe place out of the cold where people can get a meal.

But Catholic Charities’ Vicki Schultz says people end up staying permanently over the winter.

The center can fit about 65 people a night and is intended for adults, but last winter was so brutal, 179 kids came in over the season.

Homeless camp
Nicole Salow / Flickr

People living in an Ann Arbor homeless camp are bracing for eviction from the privately owned woods where they've established their tent community.

On Sunday, California-based Highridge Costa Housing Partners reported that it had authorized Ann Arbor police to clear the camp from the company's property. Camp Serenity, as its residents call it, is situated along nature trails near a highway on the city's southeast side.

Estimates of homeless people by state.
US Department of Housing and Urban Development

Federal and state officials disagree on the number of chronic homeless that are living in Michigan.

In its 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said that Michigan had a 6.1% increase in homelessness cases from 2013 to 2014, one of the highest in the nation, up 700 from 11,527 to 12,227. 

Mercedes Mejia

Starting a business can be hard. How about starting a business with a mission to help end homelessness? Well, that’s even harder.

Stateside’s Mercedes Mejia tells us about the Empowerment Plan. It’s a business with a social mission.  The company makes coats that double as sleeping bags, and gives them away to homeless people.

After nearly two years, its mission is the same. But its business model is evolving.

Rick Lieder

A homeless navy veteran died in Ann Arbor last October.

No family members came forward to claim his body.

So for five months, the veteran’s body lay in the morgue.

Now, finally, thanks to a few friends who refused to give up, Lawrence Tucker’s body was laid to rest last week at the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, Michigan.

Annie Green Springs / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

It's called "Mission A2" – short for Michigan Itinerant Shelter System Interdependent  Out of Necessity. This Ann Arbor-based nonprofit is dedicated to building links between homeless and what it calls "homeful" Washtenaw County residents. One of its key activities has been running a series of rotating tent cities for the homeless.

But now, Mission A2 is taking things to a new level. They're partnering to buy land and build a permanent settlement called Homeward Bound, a place for Ann Arbor's homeless to begin the process of rebuilding confidence and their lives.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Life-threatening wind chills are keeping Michigan's homeless shelters full. The shelters have been at or above capacity for roughly two months.

Darin Estep is the director of community engagement for Volunteers of America in Lansing. He says the ongoing cold is taking a toll.

“It’s asking a lot of folks to sleep on a cot every night,” says Estep. “It’s asking a lot of the staff to take care of the facility every night. There’s a lot of conversion that needs to take place every night to turn a day center into a sleeping area.”

cdc.gov / cdc.gov

A laid-off public school teacher, an evicted retiree, and a man who says he'll sleep on a park bench because he’s too drunk to pass the shelter’s Breathalyzer test tonight.  

The people at a daytime warming center in downtown Ann Arbor run the gamut. 

There's the guy with weathered skin and stained teeth who says he's been sober more than a month now.

Sherman Stennis says he lost his job at his uncle's scrapyard when it went out of business.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

A group of Ann Arbor homeless people and supporters marched downtown on New Year's Eve, asking the city to change its policy for the Delonis Center on Huron Street.

The warming shelter at the center is open at night -- but during the day, it opens only when it is 10 degrees, including wind chill, or colder.

"At 30 degrees you have a risk of frostbite," says Ryan Sample, "and at 45 (degrees), you have a risk of hypothermia with wet clothes."

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s homeless face another night of bitterly cold temperatures tonight.

In Lansing, the city’s decision to close one shelter has made finding a warm place to sleep more difficult.

Lansing City Outreach helps people with drug and alcohol problems, and it has opened its doors overnight for homeless people who can't get into other shelters. In the past, the shelter has accommodated 30 to 40 people on a cold night. 

Homeless camp
Nicole Salow / Flickr

The number of K-12 students in the U.S. without a home is on the rise.

More than 1.1 million children in the U.S. were homeless in the 2011-2012 school year, according to the Department of Education.

Suzi Parker at takepart.com looked at the numbers and found that Michigan has one of the fastest-growing homeless student populations in the country.

In Michigan, 43,418 students were homeless in the 2011-2012 school year, compared to 30,671 in the 2010-2011 school year:

www.thehavenbc.org

The people who run a homeless shelter in Battle Creek are giving thanks for the way the community has responded to their need this Thanksgiving.

The Haven of Rest shelter was among the hundreds of thousands of utility customers that lost power for several days earlier this month, after a severe windstorm blew through the state.

Without electricity, days-worth of meat and produce spoiled in the shelter’s refrigerators.

Half a century ago, America suffered one of the most traumatic events in our history: The assassination of President Kennedy. But while it is important to remember that, it might also be good to consider that there is a bunch of good economic news today. Good news, especially for Michigan.

Yesterday, University of Michigan economists presented their annual November forecast. They saw good things ahead, with the national economy growing almost twice as fast over the next two years as now.

Two experts from the Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics predicted five million new jobs over the next two years. Unemployment, they predict, will fall from just over seven to about six percent.

Meanwhile, they predict the automakers will sell half a million more units next year than this, more still in 2015, and the housing market will also grow.  Inflation will stay low and oil prices will remain steady. This is all very good news, if true.

Lisa Beth Anderson

A non-profit group in Grand Rapids is re-energizing its effort to get people who are homeless into permanent homes.

Well House has been around since the late 1970s. About a year ago, the non-profit emergency homeless shelter Well House was in danger of closing. That’s when its new executive director Tami VandenBerg pushed the group to switch gears and provide permanent homes instead.

User Roymundo VII / Flickr

An apartment building on the northwest side of Detroit re-opened on Thursday to provide housing to homeless people.

Cass Community Social Services spearheaded the project to renovate the Arthur Antisdel Apartments on Woodrow Wilson.

Executive Director Faith Fowler says the building attracted crime when it was vacant. She says it will now provide permanent housing for 41 people.

"It saves a building that was worth saving and puts it to good purpose." she said.

Homeless
SamPac / creative commons

If you could walk into any school in Michigan and look around at the students, you might not realize it, but somewhere in there you would see students who are homeless.

There are more than 37,500 homeless students in Michigan, and that's up 66 percent in the past four years. So, even as the economy begins to struggle its way toward recovery in Michigan, we have a rising number of homeless students trying to struggle their way through school.

Joining us to talk about the challenges that homelessness poses to students and to the school districts are Angela Parth, the executive director of "The Connection Youth Services" in Livingston County, and Holly Fiedler, the homeless Liaison and Social Worker at Milan Area Schools.

Listen to the full interview above.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Right to work goes to court

"An Ingham County judge today will decide whether to let an anti-right-to-work lawsuit go forward. The ACLU of Michigan says the new state law should be tossed out because it was passed in violation of the Open Meetings Act. The suit says lawmakers deliberately locked members of the public out of the state Capitol as the legislation was introduced and passed in December," Jake Neher reports.

Michigan gets a better credit rating

Two credit rating agencies have upgraded their outlook for Michigan.

"Yesterday Fitch and Standard & Poor’s joined Moody’s in upgrading the state’s credit rating. An improved credit rating may help the state get more favorable rates when it needs to borrow money," Steve Carmody reports.

More homeless students in Michigan

"The state Department of Education says Michigan has seen a 66 percent rise in homeless students over four years. More than 37,500 homeless students attended Michigan schools in 2011-12, up from about 22,600 in 2009-10," the Associated Press reports.

Counting Michigan's homeless

Jan 27, 2013
Homeless camp
Nicole Salow / Flickr

Michigan organizations that help homeless people are taking part in a “snap-shot” census. The federal government requires the overnight count every other year. It’s part of the Obama administration’s plan to eradicate homelessness by 2020.

The census must happen on a single night during the last ten days of January. The count includes people who are in shelters, transitional housing, and on the street.

Stateside: Fending off bitter temperatures with shelters

Jan 23, 2013
Homeless man
SamPac / creative commons

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

During these frigid weeks the warmth of a home is invaluable.

But for the homeless, these winter conditions pose life-threatening challenges.

Reverend Chico Daniels, president and chief executive of Mel Trotter Ministries and Cass Community Social Services  executive director, Reverend Faith Fowler, spoke with Cyndy about the necessity of homeless shelters in the winter.

“In the Cass Corridor we have a warming center for 50 homeless women and children. Beyond that we have two regular shelters and some transitional housing,” said Fowler.

Stateside: Homeless shelters get a makeover

Jan 10, 2013

Imagine what you might know about physical space and tranquility if you lived in a drug house, an abandoned building, or jail.

That’s the experience for many of the women who stay at the Women and Family Treatment and Shelter at Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries. They often come from intense circumstances to the shelter, in order to make big changes in their lives.

The shelter is housed in a former convent. On the third floor everything reeks of fresh paint. A professional paint company has donated the paint and man power to paint the walls. The long hallway is now sky-blue and the twenty rooms where the women live now have fresh coats of cotton-candy pink and lemon-yellow paint.

Terry Grahl runs the non-profit Enchanted Makeovers and she’s making this large-scale renovation happen by coordinating a symphony of volunteers and businesses. She got a church in Taylor to making curtains for all the rooms. An artist from Georgia is coming in to paint murals on the walls and the shelter is also getting new ceiling fans and new floors.

Fire stations across the state are being left abandoned as fire departments shrink and consolidate. Now a man hopes to transform one of those vacant stations in Flint into a homeless shelter.

John Bone says he's transforming an eye sore into a place where up to 100 people in need can find a bed and a shower.

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