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Only emergency overnight shelter in Livingston County closes; troubles loom for homeless people elsewhere

Mariam Elamine
Southwest Solutions
Livingston County's only emergency overnight shelter has closed.

Livingston County is losing its only emergency overnight shelter.

The closure of the Severe Weather Network Livingston County Homeless Shelter was due to "a lack of funding and volunteer commitments," according to Diane Duncan, co-chair of the group's board.

Eric Hufnagel, head of the Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness, said other shelters are facing the same problem from the pandemic.

"You can't rely on a volunteer basis as you did in the past," Hufnagel said. "You have to pay staff to do some of the key work that needs to be done."

Hufnagel called the situation in Livingston County a "perfect storm" as winter approaches, and federal dollars that were available for housing assistance during the pandemic are now running out. 

The drying up of housing funds, he said, is also a statewide problem.

"This is an ongoing issue. We know that there are more people who are reaching out for help now. That is that big wave that we're seeing."

Hufnagel said cities and counties need to finance short-term solutions to shelter the surge in homeless people.

But long term, he said, cities and counties need to aggressively pursue public-private projects to build affordable housing. "The free market won't fix this problem," said Hufnagel.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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