The city of Jackson seeks community input on housing needs


JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS)—-For nearly a decade, Laura Stephens has dedicated her life to helping Jackson’s most vulnerable. Now, nearly a year into the pandemic homeless shelters are over capacity, and she says it’s leaving a growing number of people with nowhere to go.

“They’re doubling up, and they are finding places, garages, basements, they’re downtown in our alleys trying to stay warm and a lot of these people are our hardest-hit chronically hit homeless people,” said Founder of Emergency Chronic Homeless Operation, Laura Stephens.

Stephens is doing what she can. She’s currently helping lead an organization called the Emergency Chronic Homeless Operation. It’s there where she’s working to feed these people and give them a break off the streets and into temporary housing, which at the moment is hard to find.

“This is a way of life, but they do want to come out of it. They just need a lot more work,” says Stephens.

It’s work the city wants to address. Today, the Mayor announced a special meeting to talk to people in the community, especially the city’s most vulnerable. They are asking for people to submit comments about how to better meet people in need where they are right now.

“What we are looking to do is have a conversation about how we can best use our federal community block grant dollars to help support the homeless, said Jackson Mayor, Derek Dobies. In the immediate term putting them up into some sort of housing shelter.”

This is a short-term fix, but Stephens says it’s something that is desperately needed right now.

“Anytime an issue is brought to the attention of those who can make a difference it is our responsibility to act and although some situations may not be ideal, it is what we have to do at the time.”

The virtual meeting is set for 6:30 Tuesday. All comments must be submitted to the city by 5 pm on that day.

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