LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)– Efforts by the City of Lansing to clear out a homeless camp known as the ‘Back 40’ continue, as around 20 people living there keep their tents pitched.
“Just because we’re homeless doesn’t mean we’re not people, we’re good people. Where do you want us to go?” William File questioned Monday evening.
The camp is located in a field near the intersection of Shiawassee and Larch. It’s private property, but File has lived there for three years and said he doesn’t think it’s fair for the city to force them to leave now.
“If they were gonna clear us out they shoulda did it in the summer. Don’t do us like this in the winter. We have nowhere to take all of our stuff to, we have no help with that. What do you want us to do out here?” he asked.
Although the city was not able to speak with 6 News Monday night, a spokesperson said all but two of the people living there have options for alternate shelter and that they’re working with the other two to find them housing.
The problem? Chris Pruit, who was homeless himself for years said some people would rather be out on the street than in a shelter.
“People are being pushed around and disrespected around the world. It’s not just a Lansing thing and the compassion for communities to help the homeless and to provide somewhere for them to be… there’s gonna be people that will never go in. They need to be in that tent and a place to have that tent,” Pruit said.
He added, this has become an issue of not just homelessness in Lansing, but everywhere.
Pruit and another man who goes by the name Buster, have advocated for the people living at the Back 40.
“At this time in history during COVID, there’s so many people that have so much trauma that is right at the surface that it’s really hard to stay calm and stay peaceful and I think to my mind, snatching somebody’s house out from under them or whatever you want to call it… that gives me serious pause. I don’t think it’s right,” Buster said.
He added that while there have been some unfortunate and unpleasant incidents with some of the homeless people, it doesn’t reflect the whole group.
“All that I want to know is that these people get a voice, they get to speak for themselves. Whatever the city decides to do cause I just wanna know that the citizens know what’s happening and people of good will can stand peaceably with these folks to make sure that the best outcomes are received here,” Buster said.
According to Buster, the city was supposed to come out to the space Monday evening to put up warning signs to stay off the property, but it never happened. 6 News expects to get an update Tuesday morning from the city regarding what steps it plans to take next.