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A peek into homelessness in Alpena

“Today what we’re doing is a point in time count and we are looking for homeless individuals on this particular day to identify what’s led them to their homelessness to provide assistance.”

These are the words of James Juchartz from the Northeast Michigan Community Agency.

Juchartz said in 2016 there were roughly 700 people experiencing homelessness within the five county area: Alpena, Alcona, Iosco, Montmorency, and Presque Isle.

Assistance is part of the equation. Another fraction is the cold weather currently hitting Alpena.

“We went through a spat of -40 degree temperatures. So we see cases of frost bite, individuals that may lose their appendages, definitely flu and pneumonia,” Juchartz said.

The housing program supervisor said area shelters are available during the winter season, but they usually get filled to capacity.

“So individuals experiencing homelessness,” Juchartz said, “they’re going to be staying in places like county parks, fairgrounds, behind shopping malls in the woods in tents.”

Anywhere to make sure they have a roof over their head to brace for the cold.

“When you’re homeless you have a lot of pride,” he said, “you don’t want to seek help. But after so long it gets to you, and you feel worthless, and you don’t feel like you can sustain yourself.”

Juchartz said that’s very hard for some people to accept.