Despite efforts, over 5,000 people still homeless in Lansing area

By Jasmine Seales
Listen Up Lansing Staff Reporter

According to a report done by the Greater Lansing Homeless Resolution Network, over 5,000 people in Ingham County were homeless as of 2014.

Though Bob Johnson from the Lansing City Development Office says that there are a variety of options including federal funds and many government programs to ensure that Lansing residents have an affordable place to live, many people are still on the streets.

“The Greater Lansing Housing Coalition helps people purchase their own home, and we have the Lansing Housing Commission that provides rental facilities to families, so I really think that as a city we are doing our job to keep housing affordable and accessible to everyone,” said Johnson.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Lansing residents on average pay less in monthly rent than people do nationwide, with the Lansing median gross rent being $743, and the national average being $920. Lansing residents also pay less on average than the rest of the state, with the Michigan median gross rent being $780.

Lansing residents also make less than the average American, with a median household income of $35,675 in Lansing, $49,087 statewide, and $53,482 nationwide.

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As political conventions take place, some local residents shrug

By Jack Ritchey
Listen Up Lansing Staff Reporter

Some Lansing area voters aren’t sure the recent Republican and Democratic National Conventions matter much to people here.

Ryan Bock, a history senior at Michigan State University, says he doesn’t think the conventions have a big effect unless they’re a complete disaster.

“I think the main purpose of the conventions is the ceremony and the opportunity to have rising stars in the party speak and to get the base behind the election,” Bock, 21, said. “The goal is basically the same for both parties: get some good coverage, a couple nice speeches and get the voters watching fire up about whoever the nominee is.”

The Republican National Convention was held at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, from July 18 to 21, with its Democratic counterpart taking place in Philadelphia from July 25 to 28.

Bock also had an interesting take on the nominees and the unity of their respective parties.

“I think funnily enough, both (Republican nominee Donald) Trump and Hillary (Clinton, the Democratic nominee) are splitting their own parties but helping to unify each other’s, which I think mostly is going to balance out.”

In the latest CNN/ORC poll, Trump leads Clinton nationally by three points.

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Historic homes are all over Lansing, but some may be at risk

By Jasmine Seales
Listen Up Lansing Staff Reporter

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Some of the many places that tourists frequently visit in Lansing are the multitude of historical houses and establishments in the Greater Lansing area.

There are a number of churches, homes and buildings that are listed as historic sites, especially in the downtown Lansing area.

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing President Bill Castanier has led a free walking tour on North Washington Avenue on July 14, in order to give a more in-depth look at the houses, tell who lived in them, when they were built, and who built them.

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Car break-ins strike Lansing apartment complex last month

By Alana Easterling
Listen Up Lansing Staff Reporter

Lansing’s College Towne Apartments has been the recent target of thieves breaking into parked cars.

The parking lot where Dunnigan's car was broken into. Photo by Alana Easterling.

The parking lot where Dunnigan’s car was broken into. Photo by Alana Easterling.

“I had heard rumors about car break-ins from a few neighbors, but I can’t say I thought much of it until it happened to me,” said Sharae Dunnigan, a three-year College Towne resident.

Dunnigan fell victim June 22. At some time overnight, the thieves got into Dunnigan’s car, stealing her Apple MacBook Pro laptop, and recently purchased iPhone headphones and charger.

“The night before, I put my laptop in my trunk,” said Dunnigan. “I knew I had to be out the house early the next day, and didn’t want to have to haul anything out the house.”

Lansing police officer Ellen Larson was the officer assigned to Dunnigan’s 911 call. Larson said she had been called out to College Towne twice that day in response to victims with the same story as Dunnigan.

“I was sent to College Towne twice that day, and I know other officers responded to at least five other calls about the same thing, with the same story- “Someone has broken into my car,” said Larson. “An incident report was filed with each person I responded to, where everything that was missing was documented, as well as the price of each item.”

Larson says that vehicle larceny is common, and advises people to avoid leaving personal items in cars to prevent these issues in the future.

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Fundraisers hope a Promise will loosen purse strings of donors

By Jack Ritchey
Listen Up Lansing Staff Reporter

The Lansing Promise Scholarship, created by legislation passed in 2009 that made 10 “promise zones” in Michigan, helps provide higher educational opportunities to deserving high school graduates or those who recently completed their GED.

The scholarship is a big selling point for MSU Greenline, Michigan State University’s student call center, which asks Spartan alumni to give back to MSU.

Jake Evasic, a physics senior at MSU and supervisor at Greenline, says scholarships like the Lansing Promise help callers pull at the heartstrings of alumni and help generate the pathos needed to get them to give back.

“I know for sure we call about the Promise Scholarship,” Evasic, 22, said, “it’s something I liked to talk about a lot when I was a caller because you can start getting the alumni to sympathize with what it would be like to not come to MSU.”

The scholarship can provide up to an associate’s degree at Lansing Community College or up to $5,000 tuition at MSU.

The need may be substantial in Lansing. At 29.4 percent, the poverty rate in Lansing is nearly double the national average of 14.8 percent, according to census.gov.

Amid national debate on police use of deadly force, Lansing offers mixed views

By Alana Easterling
Listen Up Lansing Staff Reporter

What’s racism got to do with it?

Some Lansing residents aren’t convinced that racism is the culprit behind the occurring cases of deaths in violent police crimes, including a recent pair of incidents in Louisiana and Minnesota, respectively, where police shot and killed black men, one who was selling CDs and another during a traffic stop.

“I know race is supposed to be involved. That’s what they’re saying.” said Mary Anderson, a cashier at a Lansing Speedway. She was asked if she believed racism had anything to do with the recent shootings.

Anderson does admit racism still exists, but doesn’t put the blame on it for the reason for murders by the police. Instead Anderson blames it on the bad rep police have.

“I just have a hard time believing that. I mean, I know there are still racist people, but what would that have to do with them killing someone?” she said. “I think there’s more to the case we just don’t know about. Police have bad reps anyways, and I think people like to use that as a reason to pin racism on them in these cases.”

“Not only do police have bad reps, but I think people now-a-days are giving police a hard time in general simply because of all of this stuff, like they’re trying to get back at them or something,” added Sophie Clark, Anderson’s co-worker.

Robert Merritt, the Lansing Police Department’s public information officer, who has been with the force for about 26 years, agrees that people shouldn’t jump to conclusions about what’s going on.

“Both cases are in the early stages of the investigation. Without having the entire investigation and facts, it’s a bit too premature to make comments or judgement,” said Merritt. “I along with the entire world have watched short brief moments on video on both cases and listened to the media and citizens opinions. We as a society have to let the investigation play out and take in all of the facts prior to making rash judgements.”

But Joe Darden, an urban geography professor at Michigan State University who studies race issues in cities says the way groups of people are treated by police correlates with where they reside.

“No matter where they live, if they are black, they will have a higher probability of unequal treatment,” said Darden. “Blacks who live in areas of concentrated poverty are those who experience the worst treatment from police because of both race and class.”

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Despite prep school struggles, Lansing hopes a Promise will help kids make it to college

By Jasmine Seales
Listen Up Lansing Staff Reporter

According to the website Start Class, all four of the Lansing high schools, including Eastern High School, Everett High School, J.W. Sexton High School, and alternative school Woodcreek Achievement Center are preforming poorly on test scores, with all four schools producing lower than average math proficiency skills and reading skills compared to other Michigan high schools.

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Graduation rates have also decreased during the 2014 graduation year at both Woodcreek Achievement Center and Eastern High School. All four schools are also falling behind Michigan’s average graduation rate.

Though graduation rates are not high in the Lansing School District, the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce is helping to give an incentive for teens to graduate with the Lansing Promise scholarship program.

The Lansing Chamber president Tim Daman granted presented the Lansing Promise program a check for $65,206 on the morning of July 11, boosting their total donations to more than $83,000, and over $1.1 million total in this year’s total donations to the program.

The Lansing Promise is a program that is available to high school students who live within the Lansing School District, and attend either Everett, Eastern, Sexton, or Lansing Catholic Central High School. Students can use awarded scholarship money for either up to 60 credits at Lansing Community College, $5,000 towards the cost of attending Michigan State University, or up to $1,400 per semester to attend Olivet College.

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Annual Color Run “brings out more excitement and fun”

By Zachary Mitchell
Listen Up Lansing Staff Reporter

Lansing runners got their annual shot at the Color Run in downtown Lansing on July 9.

Runners believe that this is a great way to support people to stay healthy, and have fun at the same time. The Color Run is a very large event and it has increased significantly in the past year. They have hosted over 225 events in more than 30 countries in 2015.

“I think that the paint being used in the run just brings out more excitement and fun. I actually enjoy all of the pretty colors I get to see while having fun and being fit,” said runner Sarah Allen.

Agreed, said runner Ashley Jones: “I love the smell of the scents that are used and the being covered in paint is pretty cool, and being in shape while experiencing different scents and staying in shape is amazing. I am happy that there is a change in the Color Run, and more of an interesting adventure.”

Not all love the paint, though.

“Personally I don’t like the paint but I tolerate it, because I know how important it is to stay in shape and it is so much easier tackling a fitness goal when you have partners, so I just focus on the ultimate goal of toning up,” said runner Sierra Johnson. “I love the fact that the Color Run isn’t just basic fitness training, and they spark it up with different activities.

“Many people don’t enjoy working out, they just love the results, but while doing the Color Run there is so much fun involved that a person can easily forget that they are even working out.”

Yes, there are things to do in Lansing! But doubters persist.

By Alana Easterling
Listen Up Lansing Staff Reporter

Who said there’s nothing to do in Lansing?

A strip of restaurants and taverns in Downtown Lansing. Photo by Alana Easterling.

A strip of restaurants and taverns in Downtown Lansing. Photo by Alana Easterling.

Recreational programs for the youth, festivals, attractions, and more are taking place throughout the summer, making a claim that Lansing isn’t as boring as some residents believe it to be.

“Over 150 things to do in Lansing, and only 48 hours in a weekend,” is this year’s marketing campaign for the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau (GLCVB). The GLCVB is a company whose job is to attract tourists from surrounding cities to Lansing — to convince others that Lansing is indeed a fun city.

Not everyone believes that. Kaylen English, a Lansing resident for four years and 2016 Michigan State University graduate, doesn’t think there is much to do at all in Lansing. The lack of activities is one of the main reasons she is choosing to move back to Detroit soon.

“Since I’ve moved up here for school, I’ve felt the same way,” says English. “There’s never anything going on in the actual city of Lansing. The only time I have fun is when I’m doing something the school has put on, or the students. I can’t see myself building my life here, which is why I’m going back home in August.”

Children and a camp counselor playing at Snell Tower Recreation Center. Photo by Alana Easterling.

Children and a camp counselor playing at Snell Tower Recreation Center. Photo by Alana Easterling.

“It’s even worse during the summer,” English said.

Manager and Leisure Marketer for the GLCVB, Lori Lanspeary disagrees. Lanspeary says that there’s something going on every weekend, and even activities after work hours during the week.

“Don’t ever say there’s nothing to do in town. There’s a ton of things for adults, children, and families to do in Lansing,” says Lanspeary. “Lansing has over 60 festivals that go on throughout the year, a multitude of summer programs, and events given for children, boat shows, museums, bar and grills, and so much more.”

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Common Ground fest means music and fun vs. noise and traffic

By Zachary Mitchell
Listen Up Lansing Staff Reporter

While some residents are excited for The Common Ground Music Festival taking place this week in downtown Lansing, others are concerned by the traffic, noise and crowds it will generate.

“I plan on going to the Common Ground concert and having a great time. The only downfall about this event is that it can become very crowded,” local resident Robert Ray said.

Common Ground does affect Lansing because there will be streets blocked off, and people who don’t even want to go to the event will have to experience traffic.

“I live in downtown Lansing close to where they host the Common Ground concert. I love the fact that artist are coming to our town to have performances but the one thing that bothered me is the fact that I was so loud and lasted for a long time” local resident Mario Harlon said.

There will be law enforcement provided at this event to minimize any issues that could possibly occur.

“I am excited for the Common Ground concert. This is my favorite time of the year, when summer concerts occur,” local resident Terry Morris said.