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'We want to help every child': Muskegon Co. proposal would address youth homelessness

The proposal aims to use American Rescue Plan funding to provide resources for those under the age of 18 who are struggling to find housing.

MUSKEGON, Mich. — A city of Muskegon department has a new proposal it says will address the issue of at-risk youth homelessness.

The Community and Neighborhood Services Department wants to use American Rescue Plan funding to provide resources for those under the age of 18 who are struggling to find housing or shelter.

According to the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District, about 800 students across Muskegon County have been identified as being at risk of homelessness or homeless.

In some cases, this means young people who are having trouble maintaining the family relationship end up “couch surfing” with friends.

Oneata Bailey, the Director of CNS, says there are not enough affordable housing units in the county to support this vulnerable population.

Her department proposes using federal funding to develop a non-congregate shelter like the former Webster’s House, which closed in 2016 due to a lack of funding, and purchasing more existing rental units that will be for individuals or families identified as homeless.

“Since the pandemic, we've been given extra special gifts to be able to serve our community. And when we talk about the Muskegon area, those are county schools that are within our oversight. And we want to help every child who's struggling," Bailey said.

The proposal was supposed to be on the Muskegon City Commission meeting agenda this week, but it was pulled in order to get more public input.

A public hearing is now scheduled for Tuesday, May 10. That will be followed by the city commissioners meeting on the same day.

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