Lansing Homeless Shelters Overflowing

By: Rachel Thomas Email
By: Rachel Thomas Email

Christmas without a tree, stocking or a home is a reality for nearly 4000 people in Lansing.

"Our shelters are full. We are at a stage of overflow. We have cots on the floors," said Joan Jackson Johnson, the director of the City of Lansing Human Relations.

Sixty percent of Lansing's homeless is single women with children.

"I am touched when I see children, like this morning, without a coat or blanket in a car," Johnson said.

Shelter employees say, in times like this, sending people away is part of their job.

"When we are full, we tell them to call VOA. It takes the pressure off saying we don't have a place," said City Rescue Mission employee Susan Sherwin of the women and children's shelter.

The Rescue Mission's women and children's shelter has filled its 36 beds and 5 cribs this Christmas. For everyone else, the city will have to find other arrangements.

"When we are at capacity, we have to use our motel program," said Johnson.

The city has put 20 children and seven adults in motels this Christmas weekend on the state's dime.

"We've had more activity this year from VOA (Volunteers of America) than last year at this time," said Quality Inn employee James Rudolph.

City officials say they'll take every measure to make sure every person and child is sheltered from the cold. The city has spent 2 to 3 thousand dollars this week on motels as a last resort. City officials are planning to work toward homeless prevention to avoid these costly measures.


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