Advocates for homeless community meet with Lansing over issues at Reutter Park
Local advocates urge the city to do more to help people who sleep in the park.
LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Local advocates and community members voiced their concerns Tuesday over the fact that homeless people live and sleep in Reutter Park. City Rescue Mission of Lansing reported a 70% increase in homelessness since 2021.
Advocates, like Michael Karl, said they won’t back down until homeless people have a place to keep warm this winter.
“You guys took picnic tables out of there but now someone with money is able to put nice picnic tables in the park – that’s pretty rude, it’s a slap in the face. Two – we have heaters out there. People are freezing to death,” said Karl of Cardboard Prophets.
At the meeting, advocates said they want to repurpose the tiny sheds at Reutter Park outside of Kringle Holiday Market as temporary warming stations overnight when other centers close. They also want to keep the heaters on even if the market is not open.
“What I would have liked to see happen is that this conversation was had when they were making the plans for the Kringle Market. We heard today that there was some conversations and they admitted - and I appreciate that - that the ball was dropped,” said Erica Lynn of People’s Council of Lansing.
When asked if the heaters can be used to keep homeless people warm when the market is closed, Parks and Recreation Director, Brett Kashchinske, said he’s open to the idea.
“If Cardboard Prophets, for instance, wants to use those heaters after hours and monitor that, that’s absolutely something we can talk about,” said Kashchinske.
Advocates left the meeting knowing there was still a long way to go but said their conversation was a step in the right direction.
“I do hope that what we talked about today, we see something come to fruition. Some of those tangibles that are going to immediately help who we’re talking about,” said Lynn.
The National Alliance to End Homelessness reports that in Lansing, it’s estimated that on any given night, 512 people are homeless with nowhere to go.
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