Families & Community | Michigan Radio
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Families & Community

Courtesy Verdell and Julie Franklin

Verdell and Julie Franklin had visited their friends on Zukey Lake in Hamburg Township many times over the last ten years, and when a house on the same lake came on the market in September, they were eager to see the property.

It was after their experience viewing the house that they decided to file a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan. Julie is white and Verdell is Black. The lawsuit alleges housing discrimination, and that the real estate agents involved purposefully misled and prevented the Franklins from making an offer on the house because of race, in violation of the 1968 Fair Housing Act. The lawsuit was filed on Friday.

City of Flint

Flint's residents, many of whom experienced serious medical problems, including a lethal outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease, may be able to take part in a multimillion-dollar civil settlement, but the question of accountability remains. That's why many were heartened by the news Thursday that criminal charges were being filed against Governor Rick Snyder and other state officials for their parts in the water crisis. We wanted to check in with the man currently leading Flint right now about what all this means for his community.

silhouette of mom holding hands of two kids in front of sunset sky
Serjik Ahkhundov / Adobe Stock

Kent County shelters are seeing more families experiencing homelessness as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Family Promise in Grand Rapids usually houses 30 to 40 families a night during the winter. This year, they're providing shelter to twice that amount. The families are staying in hotels, with many people working and going to school remotely.

Courtesy Michelle Matiyow

More than 13,000.

That is the tally of lives COVID-19 has taken here in Michigan as of Sunday.

We don’t talk as much about the other people we’ve lost over the past ten months.

Adobe Stock

This is not only the first day of 2021. It’s also the final day of Kwanzaa.

The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History had to move its observance of the seven days of Kwanzaa online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yolanda Jack is the director of the museum’s Kwanzaa program. She believes Kwanzaa’s emphasis on faith, self-determination and unity have been important for many people during a tumultuous 2020.

courts.michigan.gov

Bills waiting for Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s signature would send fewer people to jail for minor infractions such as driving on a suspended license or a technical violation of a probation order.

The bills were recommended by a task force co-chaired by Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack.

She says the current system punishes people who don’t pose a threat to public safety, and makes it less likely they’ll get their lives in order.

Photo taken from a BLM protest in Detroit this summer
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

This was a wrenching year of racial reckoning both nationally, and right here in Michigan. Detroit journalist Stephen Henderson has been grappling with these issues both on-air as a radio host on WDET, and also in writing. Many of his conversations about race and racial justice this year featured prominent American writers and thinkers, and those conversations became the basis of a new season of Henderson’s podcast “Created Equal”.

Wayne County

Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon has died after contracting COVID-19.

Napoleon was 65 years old.  He was admitted to the hospital on November 21, and died several weeks after being placed on a ventilator.

Napoleon was appointed sheriff in 2009, and he was elected to the position in 2012, and reelected every four years since then. 


Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

They stood on cold concrete at dusk, in masks and heavy coats, just around the corner from the hospital where every day more patients succumb to the virus.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

A new emergency shelter will soon open in downtown Grand Rapids, with up to 100 beds.

The shelter will be in an old retail space in the Heartside neighborhood downtown. Two existing shelters – Mel Trotter Ministries and Guiding Light, are working together to open up the space, along with the building’s owner.

Dennis Van Kampen, head of Mel Trotter Ministries, says demand for shelter has increased since the start of the pandemic, even as the shelter space has declined.

The small city of Portage is playing a big role in getting out Pfizer’s new COVID-19 vaccine.

Pfizer is manufacturing the vaccine at its 1,300 acre factory site in Portage, and distributing throughout the U.S.

Patricia Randall is mayor of Portage. She says everyone in town knows someone who works at the plant

“They have offered hope to the world,” Randall says. “I mean we have been unified in the world with suffering. And this has gone on for nine months. And it’s definitely a miracle. It’s a gift that we’ve all been waiting for.”

Serenity Mitchell / Unsplash

Today on Stateside, COVID has turned life upside down for many people. For homeless LGBTQ youth, their lives were already in a state of crisis. We speak with two people at the Ruth Ellis Center about what life looks like for these youths right now. Plus, Detroit extended its water shutoff moratorium until 2023. What that will mean for residents and the city.

 Jerry Bishop is senior pastor at LifeQuest Urban Outreach Center in Grand Rapids. His ministry serves people in the heart of Grand Rapids, and he has a particular focus helping young Black men.

The virus has taken an immense toll on the community Jerry Bishop serves. Bishop says he’s presided over funerals for 21 people who’ve died of COVID. Click the link above to listen to his story.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan groups that provide meals for people who need them for Thanksgiving are having to make some changes this year due to COVID-19.

In Midland, Open Door executive director Renee Pettinger says her agency will be serving special Thanksgiving meals to hundreds of people.
  
She says because Open Door is not serving meals indoors, her agency is having added expenses.

Today on Stateside, a conversation with Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) about making mental health accessible and the future of the Senate under President-elect Biden. Plus, a look at the history of some notable Black Michiganders—from the pre-Civil War era to the suffrage movement.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

A line of candles on a concrete porch. A white teddy bear. Her face, shining through in photographs. Balloons, purple and silver, let loose into the night sky.

Her name filling the air.

“Honestie!”

“Long live Honestie, my baby!”

“I love you monster!”

“We love you!”

Fourteen year old Honestie Hodges passed away Sunday, from complications of COVID-19. Friends and family held a vigil Monday night.

He had dementia and COVID. She wanted to hold him when he died.

Nov 23, 2020
Daytona Niles / Bridge Michigan

Jerry Zeiger tested positive for COVID on a Tuesday.

The next day, the hulking former engineer with late-stage Alzheimer’s is tucked under a soft brown blanket at Sue’s Loving Care, an adult foster home in Kalamazoo.

He is 73. Outside his screened window, the woman he shared truckstop coffee with on their first date teeters on a step ladder on a raw November day.

a pumpkin pie on a table
Unsplash

Planning a Thanksgiving celebration isn’t usually a simple task—but this year, it’s bound to be particularly complicated. As COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Michigan, health officials warn that even small holiday gatherings pose risks.

It’s hard to know how to celebrate. Do you brave the cold and see family from a safe distance outdoors? Host a virtual dinner? Load up on turkey and take a long, tryptophan-induced nap? 

Like many married and working couples first confronting the pandemic, Bianca Flokstra and Victor Udoewa tried to go on with their lives as normal.

Flokstra continued to work full time while taking care of their kids, ages 4 and 2. She also handled most of the housework, with her husband helping from time to time. It didn't work.

"Those first couple of months were really hard," Flokstra says. "There was ... a lot of fighting. A lot of tears."

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

A 14-year legal battle over child welfare reform in Michigan still isn’t done.

A monitoring report released Tuesday in federal court found the state only met 13 of the 52 performance standards it needs to meet before the child welfare system can be released from court oversight.  

The report period covered the second half of 2019, months before 16-year-old Cornelius Fredrick died following a restraint at a residential facility in Kalamazoo.

The state had dozens of investigations into the facility in the years before Fredrick died, yet it remained open.  

young people with masks drinking
Adobe Stock

Rev. Robert Teszlewicz was doing everything right. In the spring, he was off work, and followed the stay-at-home orders.

Brandon Griggs at paralitik / unsplash

Nearly three-quarters of Ann Arbor voters said “yes” on Tuesday to a 20-year millage that will help low and moderate income people find places to live in the city. 

Teresa Gillotti is Director of the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development. She says the millage will help construct, acquire or subsidize up to 1,500 housing units for people making 60% or less of the median area income.

Pixabay

Homeless shelters are gearing up for their first full winter during a pandemic.

Laurel Burchfield, Associate Director of the Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness, says last spring, most shelters swiftly located additional places to house homeless people so they could physically distance.

Shelter residents were frequently tested, and the most medically vulnerable were put up in hotels. Burchfield say the measures prevented big COVID-19 outbreaks among homeless people in most cities.

Women are seeing the fabric of their lives unravel during the pandemic. Nowhere is that more visible than on the job.

In September, an eye-popping 865,000 women left the U.S. workforce — four times more than men.

The coronavirus pandemic is wreaking havoc on households, and women are bearing the brunt of it. Not only have they lost the most jobs from the beginning of the pandemic, but they are exhausted from the demands of child care and housework — and many are now seeing no path ahead but to quit working.

a billboard with a picture of a Native woman and red hand print over her mouth
The Native Justice Coalition


kyo azuma / Unsplash

Stateside for Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Today on Stateside, we take a look at the troubling rise in COVID-19 cases in Kent County. Also, a conversation about Jackson County’s history as a birthplace for  Abraham Lincoln's Republican Party. Plus, we talk to two election attorneys about the possibility of contested election results after the presidential election.

Courtesy of Adrienne Lenhoff

If this were any other year, Michiganders could expect the usual costume parties, trick-or-treating, and corn mazes that signal the approach of Halloween. But now that COVID-19 is circulating, bobbing for apples is definitely out, and families might not be comfortable accepting candy from strangers this year. For holiday-driven businesses like haunted houses, the pandemic presents challenging questions about how to open up for the Halloween season safely.

Dylan Fereira / unsplash

The Michigan Department of Corrections is rolling out video visitation for inmates during the pandemic.

It's hoped that will help inmates stay connected with loved ones they can no longer see in person.   

MDOC spokesman Chris Gautz says it could be a long time before in-person visits start up again, especially as cases on the outside begin to rise.

Child looks at computer screen
Thomas Park / Unsplash

School has been back in session for more than a month now, and Michigan families and educators are beginning to settle into the strange new reality. Teachers and kids have shared how they’re adjusting to things like Zoom discussions, asynchronous learning, and masks in the classroom. Now that the back-to-school season is behind us and the rest of the year looms ahead, Stateside wanted to know: How are parents doing?

Courtesy of Malissa Clair

Malissa ClairLamphere Public Schools. Both she and her husband are essential workers for Consumers Energy. Before the pandemic, they both worked during school hours. But when Clair found out that her kids' school district was only going to be virtual this fall, she went into "mommy mode" and changed her schedule so she could be home during the day to help her youngest daughter, five-year old Sloan, with virtual kindergarten. Clair's hours are now 3:30pm - midnight, sometimes longer.

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