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Northern Michigan Shelters Sees Rise in Homelessness Numbers

As temperatures dip, homeless shelters in Northern Michigan are doing what they can to make sure people have a place to say warm.

Ryan Hannon, the community engagement officer of Goodwill, Northern Michigan in Traverse City said he’s seen a huge increase in the numbers over this past year.

“We’re always full and we have a waitlist about 20 people. But we’re seeing the largest number of unsheltered homelessness we’ve seen in the winter this season,” said Hannon.

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Hannon said he’s noticed it, especially with one age group in particular.

“We are seeing the aging over a homeless population, actually. And what I mean by that is there’s more people that are older that are falling into homelessness these days. Their incomes have dwindled, whether it be COVID, or their pensions are gone or they’ve burned through other resources, through inflation and are retiring into homelessness,” said Hannon.

But for Our Brother’s Keeper Shelter in Big Rapids, it’s a different group coming in for help.

Nicole Alexander is the executive director of the shelter.

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“I would say children, the families that are coming through, I think that’s our biggest increase. Seniors have stayed pretty steady and the other age groups are pretty steady,” said Alexander.

One thing both shelters can agree on is that the rise in homelessness is connected to factors like the rate of pay not keeping up with the cost of living.

Kristyn Begari, the homeless prevention programs manager, of the Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency said the biggest reason is the lack of affordable housing.

“We actually have enough funding, enough grant money to get all the people who are unhoused in our area housed. It’s just there is not enough housing that’s affordable for people to get into,” said Begari.

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