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Michigan Homeless Numbers Expected To Go Higher

December 17, 2008

Lansing, MI - Homelessness is up in cities in Michigan and nationwide by an average 12 percent, according to a survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the worst could still be to come.

The Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness reports there are at least 80,000 homeless people in the state. The group's interim director, Lynn Nee, said that as the economy continues its downward spiral more people are at risk of losing their jobs - and then their homes. She said the path to homelessness often begins with simple money problems.

"Somebody might have been working a part-time job, or a full-time job, but then they can't pay their mortgages on their house, because they were living very close to the line."

Nee said half of Michigan's homeless population consists of families, with parents struggling to keep their households together.

"Where is the point at which they're going to reach the neglect stage, and the state's going to intervene because the family can't provide a home for the children?"

Nee said she's seeing a greater awareness of the homeless problem because many now see it affecting their own families and friends.

"They're seeing the foreclosures and they're seeing the people that are losing their jobs. I think there's going to be a greater awareness, but there's never a point where you can stop trying to raise the awareness."

Nee said while homeless people are perceived by some as lazy or having substance abuse problems, 22 percent have some college or technical training.

Tony Bruscato, Public News Service - MI