That’s a difficult thing to say. I worry about him all the time, and it’s a rare that an hour goes by that I don’t hope he’s okay. There are reasons he isn’t living with me. They’re complicated and difficult and terrible. The situation is the least worst of all choices.
After several weeks of days on the street and nights in a rotation of church basements, Sasha, who is 19, was finally given a bed at the Delonis Shelter in downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan. He’s trying to earn his GED, and he works a few hours a week a food distribution center. He was mugged once for his driver’s license, but that’s the worst of it. He’s been very lucky so far.
A lot of other people haven’t been.
Because of Sasha, I’ve learned a lot about Ann Arbor’s homeless situation. Ann Arbor has a high homeless population, partly because Ann Arbor has, in the past, been kinder to its homeless than surrounding cities like Detroit and Lansing and the wealthy cities in Oakland County, who don’t tolerate homeless people at all. In fact, police from other towns have been known to put their homeless people on a Greyhound bus to Ann Arbor. This overtaxes Ann Arbor’s homeless system.
Because the shelters don’t have infinite room, an impromptu campground recently sprang up on wooded state land on the outskirts of Ann Arbor. A large number of homeless people who couldn’t get into the shelters are living there. According to Sasha, who is very outgoing and makes friends quickly, these people are homeless for a great variety of reasons. A great many were laid off from their jobs and lost their houses or apartments. Many are veterans. Women with children live there, too.
Now, the state has decided these people are a danger. It’s erecting a fence around the land and forcing the people out. State officials claim that they’re going to find “alternative housing” for the people, but my contacts within the shelter system tell me there isn’t near enough housing to go around. The Delonis Shelter, where my son is staying, is being flooded with desperate people.
Please help them. I’m asking on behalf of Sasha and all the other children who have been kicked off the state land.
I’ve made a cash donation as well. Can you join in? Even a few dollars helps. You can donate on-line with a credit or debit card at the shelter’s web site: http://annarborshelter.org/donations
Thank you for reading.
–Steven Harper Piziks
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