Lansing declares housing emergency to help displaced hotel tenants


LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – For the past two years, hundreds of homeless people across mid-Michigan have stayed off the streets thanks to the Homeless Angels program and the Magnuson Hotel.

But because of planned renovations, 6 News has learned everyone who currently calls the Magnuson home is being told to move out.

Gary McNamara says he was once homeless, living on the streets of Lansing.

Three months ago, he finally found a home at the Magnuson Hotel on Lansing’s far south side.

But right now this safe place is on shaky ground.

“There are people here with children. That’s the worst thing. That’s what I worry about,” McNamara said.

Nearly 70 people are being forced out next month because the owner wants to renovate.

A lot of the residents here are just learning the news.

It’s a tough for them to process.

They thought they were secure in a home, and now they’re fearful they could end up back on the streets.

Homeless Angels started this project at the hotel to give homeless people a stable home.

“That’s unfair, first of all to the tenants, and then to the city, and the rest of us who will have to pick up the pieces,” said Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero.

Mayor Bernero says the city will declare a housing emergency.

“I am going to try to get through to the owners and ask for more time. I hope we can get that,” Bernero said.

Tenants could be set up in temporary shelters or in public housing.

“It will allow us to move families members, children are priority, to the top of the public housing list,” Bernero said.

Michael Karl, the founder of Homeless Angels, says he’s worried about the people who live here.

“This hotel is a unique savior to many people, people who didn’t fit the demographic who could go to shelter,” Karl said.

Karl tried to work with management to keep the doors open but an agreement couldn’t be reached.

“But we’ll await the outcome and keep helping the people like we do,” Karl said.

There was no comment from hotel management Monday afternoon.

Previous reports indicate the owner is from Singapore and owes thousands of dollars in utility bills.

“There are people crying. It chokes you up. All of us are going to be homeless again, we’re one big family. It’s crazy,” McNamara said.

Plans call for people at the hotel to be out by September 12.

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