NEMCSA official updates commissioners on homelessness issue

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Alpena County Sheriff Steve Kieliszewski, left, gives the oath of service to newly hired deputy Spence Fletcher. Fletcher has law enforcement experience with the Michigan State Police and as a bailiff at the courthouse.

ALPENA — Homelessness is a problem in Northern Michigan, and although there are a homeless shelters in Alpena and Oscoda, it is not known what the extent of the homelessness is, according to an agency official who deals with homelessness.

Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency Housing and Client Services Director Val Williams gave a presentation to the Alpena County Board of Commissioners about the efforts being made that will help locate people who are homeless in the area and provide them help. She said in 2016 NEMCSA serviced 311 homeless people in 11 counties. There also were 52 homeless veterans who received help. The Immanuel Mission in Oscoda provided assistance to 101 people in Iosco County and Sunrise Million in Alpena provided help for 289.

“Homelessness is very prevalent in Northeast Michigan and the reason is access to safe emergency shelter is limited,” Williams said. “We only have two true homeless shelters in the area, so that leaves a lot of people in more rural areas that may not get the help they need.”

In order to get a better grip on how many homeless people there are NEMCSA will be holding a Point in Time survey that will utilize volunteers to get as accurate count of homeless people. Williams said services will be offered to the people, many of whom could live in tents or campers during the winter, or bounce from around from place to place to stay at night.

Williams said if you are homeless or know somebody who is, call NEMCSA at 358-4707.

In other business:

∫ the board approved submitting a letter of support for a Northeast Michigan Council of Governments grant application that could provide funding to create a trail that would run from Oscoda to Alpena.

∫ Chairman Cam Habermehl appointed Brenda Fournier and Wes Wilder to be alternates on the jail committee. He also appointed Brad McRoberts to the recycling committee.

∫ commissioners approved a 0.36 raise for all non-union employees in 2018.

∫ A public hearing was held before the meeting regarding the 2018 budget. There were no comments or correspondence. The budget runs from Jan.1 through Dec. 31.

∫ before the meeting there was a moment of silence to former board Secretary Jamie Siess who died Saturday.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.