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Lansing homeless shelter closed for code violations

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. 

But this week, city officials shut down the shelter for building code violations.  There are some exposed wires.  The building is also not zoned so people can spend the night.

Mark Bozzo runs the Lansing City Outreach. He takes responsibility for the problems with the city.  He just wishes the city had waited until it was warmer to close his shelter.

“If you take the number of people who died out in the cold since I’ve been doing this, and how many people died here in a fire, this is zero ... that’s who knows how many,” says Bozzo. “I think that’s why you err on the side of love.”

But despite the hardship for the homeless men and women who rely on the shelter and the potential cost of bringing the building up to code, Bozzo sees a bright side.

“The good news is this has opened up such a thing of people wanting to help and saying we want to help these people. So it’s been a blessing in disguise,” says Bozzo.

Bozzo says he plans to meet with city officials on Friday to discuss what can be done to bring the building up to code.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.