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Politics & Government

Ypsilanti Twp. rejects street paper vendors

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One Michigan community has said "no" to homeless and poor people who want to sell a nonprofit newspaper on the street.

Groundcover News asked Ypsilanti Township for permission to sell its paper near fast-food restaurants and other businesses. But the township's trustees worried about safety and whether businesses would object.

Only Trustee Karen Lovejoy-Roe voted yes.  

"They could stand outside Taco Bell and say 'give me a dollar,' or they could stand outside of Taco Bell in the public right-of-way and say, 'Do you want to buy a newspaper,'" Lovejoy-Roe says. "I just thought, here's a group of folks that were trying actually to be a part of selling something and learning skills and developing their own little self enterprises."

In August, a federal judge ruled a Michigan law banning panhandling in public places is unconstitutional.

Lovejoy-Roe says it doesn't make sense that panhandling is allowed on public land, but selling the newspaper  is not.

Groundcover News's Web site says the paper "was founded in April  2010 as a way to empower homeless persons to make the transition from homeless to housed, and from jobless to employed."

The street paper is sold for $1 by vendors in Ann Arbor, Dexter, Pittsfield and Ypsilanti.