State Officials Experience One Night Homeless

Several state elected officials have learned what it’s like to be homeless. That’s because they spent Wednesday night pretending to be homeless as part of a challenge issued by the Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness. Spokesperson Laurel Burchfield tells WSJM News the group wanted the state’s lawmakers to better understand the issue of homelessness.

“We would love for them to have a better understanding, but we also want to break down stereotypes,” Burchfield said.

Coalition Against Homelessness Director Eric Hufnagel tells us more than 67,000 people were homeless in Michigan last year. It’s not just the single men with substance abuse problems that you see on TV.

“Part of that, of course, has to be with economics,” Hufnagel said. “The fact [is] that we’re finding more people who are better off and the jobs market has improved, but this is not just about income. There are other issues.”

None of the lawmakers who made themselves homeless on Wednesday are from southwest Michigan. They’ll stayed outdoors at a location in Lansing, or at a local shelter. Hufnagel tells us he hopes these officials not only learned about the experience but also learned about the homeless themselves. He urges anyone who wants to help the homeless to reach out to a local charity.

Here is a list of the Michigan elected officials taking part in this event this week:

Tom Cochran, State Representative – 67th District Ingham County

Tommy Brann, State Representative – 77th District Kent County

David LaGrand, State Representative – 75th District Kent County

Curtis Hertel Jr, State Senator – 23rd District Ingham County

Shanna Draheim, East Lansing City Council

Carol Koenig, Ingham County Board of Commissioners