LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Businesses in Lansing hope a holiday market leads to more awareness about the homeless community after a week of controversy.
Lansing’s Kringle Market reopens on Saturday, but advocates with the city’s homeless community are calling the market’s setup “Insensitive.” They’ve even brought their concerns to city officials.
Those concerns include better aid to the homeless community.
Marcus Leslie, the founder of Mr. Leslie’s Cheesecakes, is slated to be part of the market. He said he was aware that Reutter Park is a resource used by advocacy groups, to give out food and clothing for those in need.
“We reached out to downtown Lansing just to let them know, ‘Listen, if we are going to be part of this, we want to make sure we do what we believe is best.’ So we’re not there just to sell products but what can we do as a community and what can we do as vendors to give back to them,” said Leslie.
He said giving back has always been a value of his business. While gearing up for the Kringle Market, he met with homeless advocates from the fledge to find out how he can help.
“He says ‘Marcus, honestly, one, we want you down there. Cause it can be both and, the businesses and taking care of the community that’s unhoused and but let’s give them something you put all your heart and love into which is your cheesecakes. It’s a decadent dessert, it’s an elegant dessert and it’s something they get at all of the time,” Leslie said.
A Cty of Lansing official said they along with members of downtown Lansing Inc. have been already reviewing the requests, which include 24-hour heating stations and changing security. practices. They said a response could come by next week.
For Leslie, he hopes the attention around the Kringle Market leads to better awareness of homelessness and brings better collaboration and transparency between the city and those supporting people who are unhoused.
“I believe that each one can affect someone just by doing the good thing and the right thing, and so that’s what we want to continue to do me and my family and those who have worked alongside us,” said Leslie.
Leslie said he plans to meet with nonprofits and advocates to find better ways to support their efforts.
He isn’t the only vendor hoping for better awareness.
“What was supposed to be a great holiday event to bring business to Downtown and uplift small businesses has turned into a divisive issue. We are glad that more attention is being brought to those experiencing homelessness in our city, however. This shows that there are a number of solutions available that would better aid those in need of it,” said Liz Kruger with Honey Bun Bakery.
She said her business had to drop out of the Kringle Market due to staffing and family issues unrelated to the market’s controversy.
6 News reached out to several nonprofit leaders for comment on the deadline, but we have yet to hear back.