‘The Homeless Hotel’ is a different kind of shelter

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Finding temporary housing for the homeless isn’t easy, as shelters around Lansing are at full capacity almost every night.

So activists are now getting creative by getting hotel rooms for the homeless. The initial “Homeless Hotel Program” started back in 2013. Now, after a short break, it’s back with the goal of helping people get back on their feet.

“I don’t want to create a temporary address. I want to help you create a permanent address with a temporary situation,” said Mike Karl, founder of The Homeless Hotel and The Freetail Store.

Karl has been known in Lansing for his work with the homeless, but before he was an activist–he was homeless himself.

In that time, Karl learned the struggles of finding short-term housing Fast-forward to today–and Karl runs The Homeless Hotel, which is funded only by donations.

“In the last year and a half, I have seen such a spike in people getting evicted, people being outside, families that are homeless for the first time,” said Karl. “It seems like there is not enough, so it was time for me to once again step up and talk with hotels and try to link them together, so I can help as many people as I can.”

Mike Karl founded the Homeless Hotel program. (WLNS)
Mike Karl founded the Homeless Hotel program. (WLNS)

Karl said when he opened up this program in 2013, it helped thousands find housing. But this time around, things will be a little different–if you need a room, you will need to book it online, and the hotels will not be involved in the booking process.

It also requires a Homeless ID from Holy Cross Services, as well as shelter denial letters. “Those two two things can help you get fast-tracked for housing,” said Karl. “Also, when you get shelter denial letters, you can use those with your [Department of Health and Human Services] form to help you get into housing.”

But this isn’t just a place to stay, Karl said. The program will be working with the homeless to help them find long-term housing and a job.

“I have a good history of helping people with barriers to employment,” said Norma Bauer, who volunteers with Homeless Hotel. “That’s what I did at Homeless Angels; that’s what I did at The Magnuson; that’s what I’m doing here. And when they get a job and they’re so happy, my heart sings.”

To prevent people from calling the hotels directly, The Homeless Hotel is not releasing the names of the hotels it is partnered with. The form for a room can be found online.

If you don’t have a phone, The Freetail Store in the Lansing Mall gives out cell phones at no charge every Friday.

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