City of East Lansing Looking to Help Prevent Homelessness

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Raymond Holt for ELi

Advent House Ministries in Lansing helps to address homelessness in this area.

Last week’s announcement that the Cities of East Lansing and Lansing would dedicate a combined $30,000 in funding to local charities for their work with the homeless population during the COVID-19 crisis was met with thankfulness and gratitude, especially at a time when the struggle for stable housing will become even more difficult.

Holy Cross Services, Advent House Ministries, Child and Family Charities, the City Rescue Mission of Lansing, and Haven House are five of the charities that have either received funding already or will do so in the coming days.

Gabriel Biber, Executive Director of Haven House, has been told that his charity will receive $1,000 from East Lansing’s $10,000 in general fund support.

“We are currently at capacity with the temporary scattered site model which we are using as part of our COVID-19 response,” Biber told ELi. “Residents are staying at hotels and receiving daily case management with the goal of quickly reaching a home of their own.”

Said Biber, “Thanks to this type of support, we are able to continue to provide families with all of the services they would normally receive at our on-site shelter [in East Lansing], such as food, bus tokens, non-food stamp items.”

According to Biber, Haven House shelters more than 100 families per year, both at its Whitehills Drive facility and throughout the Greater Lansing community.

Gabriel Biber, Executive Director of Haven House

East Lansing Mayor Ruth Beier emphasized the importance of charitable work in times of crisis.

“It’s important to be working with the charities and agencies in our region that are continuing to provide support for our homeless population, whether that’s by providing them with safe shelter or the supplies they need to practice the hygiene and social distancing practices that will help in reducing the community spread of COVID-19,” Beier said in a news release.

She added, “We hope others will join us in supporting the important work of these charities during this time of great need.”

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor had the same message: “I urge others throughout the region to join in supporting this cause to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 throughout the Greater Lansing community.”

According to the same news release, the City of Lansing will dedicate $20,000 from its Chronic Homelessness Fund, through the Basic Human Needs Fund.

“I appreciate the work being done by Holy Cross and Advent House Ministries to assist those throughout the region who are homeless,” said Shor. “We cannot allow COVID-19 to spread throughout our most vulnerable population. Lansing is proud to answer the call to assist our regional homeless population by providing dollars to ensure this work can be done.”

Schor says that the City of Lansing “will continue to work closely with shelters to ensure that they have proper spacing and medical capacity. And we will now also assist as shelters provide service and safety elements to those who are not or cannot be sheltered.”

As a leader at Haven House, Biber tells ELi he’s very concerned about the lasting effects of the coronavirus emergency, and how it will affect the individuals and families that Haven House serves.

“As we look beyond the current crisis, there’s really going to be a real need for homeless prevention, for helping people who are out there working hard, who just got hit hard by this crisis,” Biber said.

“Haven House actively works with 30 families who are now living in their own housing in the community, who left our shelter housing over the past year. We call them our ‘Partners in Progress’ families. As lost wages accrue and stays on evictions are lifted, these families are going to be facing a lot of obstacles in the next few months.”

Note: This article was amended to correct the spelling of Gabriel Biber’s surname.

ELi has a special section dedicated to our reporting on COVID-19 for East Lansing. See it here and sign up for ELi’s mailer to stay informed

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