LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The City of Lansing launched its first committee tasked with finding community and government solutions to help those living on the streets.

The committee was formed for a variety of reasons and comes as several apartments have fallen out of code compliance recently. In December, the city faced criticism for a holiday market that featured warming huts that were open for limited hours.

While the group around the table was small, members hope to make big changes in the next eight months.

From calls for a mentorship program to the need for more funding, the AD-HOC Committee on Homelessness heard from homeless advocates and city employees who highlighted real obstacles and offered recommendations.

Earlier this month, the Lansing City Council passed a resolution to create the committee. Council member Jeffery Brown is chair of the committee. He said the first step is figuring out the expanse of the situation and what tools are out there.

“Are we being effective or are we being wasteful? And that’s why people don’t have access to services or the other things they might need. Whether its basic needs, it’s housing or opportunity for employment or whatever it is they may need,” he said.

In the coming months, he said he wants to bring together city services and area non-profits to better organize a response and service for people who are in and out of homelessness.
While it’s a tall order, he looks forward to the work.

“You can get a pretty report but when it matters the most, is the person in front saying “well this is what I experienced” versus what’s in writing. And I want to know what’s the difference in the two so we can get to the real issues, the core issues and really make a change,” Brown said.

The committee will do more research on the city’s homeless population, identify the biggest barriers to getting help, connect with agencies offering support, and try to come up with real solutions.

It will present its findings to the city council in September.