City Helps Displaced Families

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The week has been a nightmare for April Carll, to say the least. She was one of hundreds displaced from her home in Lansing's Life O'Riley Mobile Home Park, which was condemned Tuesday due to health concerns.

She was given ten days before she had to move out.

"It's been a nightmare," she said Saturday, holding back tears. "To have to leave my home, I've been there almost a year and now I'm homeless. I don't know what else to do. I'm living in a motel room right now and I can't sleep at night, I'm up all night trying to figure out where I'm going to live."

Saturday, there was finally a reason to smile, as Carll sat in the waiting room at the Capitol Area Humane Society's spay and neuter clinic, ready to hand her dogs over for a free checkup.

"That means a lot to me because they need their shots and their tags and it's really nice," she said.

The humane society doesn't normally open its clinic on Saturdays, but made special accommodations for Life O'Riley residents.

"People consider pets family so whenever anyone's displaced, there needs to be consideration assistance for the pets to get them through the transition as well," said Julia Palmer, president and CEO at the Capitol Area Humane Society. "We feel like that's a really great opportunity for our organization to come in and assist."

Dogs and cats could receive free wellness visits and vaccinations. The humane society could even offer temporary housing or foster care for people whose landlords may not accept animals.

"The most important thing is we need to put the pet in a home in these situations," said Palmer. "It's hard enough to lose your home, but then to lose a part of your family and your pet makes your situation even worse, so our goal here is to try to keep the pets here in their home where it's appropriate."

The City of Lansing is also taking steps to help the Life O'Riley residents, who were considered homeless the minute the Ingham County Health Department condemned the premises.

"We have to embrace our brothers and sisters because by the grace of God we may be in the same situation the next day," said Joan Jackson Johnson, director of human relations and community services for the city of Lansing. "It's important that the transition is clean, that it's safe and again that we're meeting as many of the basic needs as possible."

Jackson Johnson spent her day pulling together as many essentials as she could for the newly-homeless residents.

Sears and Meijer offered steep discounts to help, she said. Hotels and motels have been providing cheaper-than-usual rates. The city has picked up the tab for about 50 families and will pay for a family's first month's rent in some cases.

"The good thing again is Lansing is just one great city, great community that when we need something, people rise to the occasion," she said.

Jackson Johnson could not provide a dollar amount yet, but says the money is already accounted for and is meant to be spent on those in need.

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