Council discusses homeless situation, impact on local library

Gaza ceasefire resolution, ADA compliance officer also discussed

By: Gena Johnson | Warren Weekly | Published January 23, 2024


WARREN — The Warren City Council met for its first session of 2024 on Jan. 9 and discussed a myriad of issues, including Warren’s homeless population and its impact on the Burnette Branch Library.

According to the discussion at the meeting, Motor City Mitten Mission provides nighttime temporary shelter for the homeless; however, the unhoused participants of the program must leave during the day. As a result, many of the participants have been going to the Burnette Library.

Council Secretary Mindy Moore, representing District 3, said she first became aware of this issue when library staff contacted council on Oct. 23, complaining that having so many homeless people at the library impeded some of the other activities at the branch.

Earlier this year, Councilwoman Melody Magee, of District 1, and Councilman Henry Newnan, of District 5, visited the Burnette Library to use its services. The two were met with the same complaints by library staff.

“It does seem to be an ongoing problem. Three of us have heard about the problems (and) complaints,” said Moore. “We would like a resolution.”

Moore further explained.

“We have an obligation to take care of our most vulnerable population,” Moore said. “We should find a decent, acceptable place for them to go when they are released. There should be some kind of plan of action, how that’s dealt with.”

Issues related to the homeless at the library, according to Newnan, include a lack of proper hygiene, mental illness and the number of homeless people at the library, which impeded some of the children’s programs, which were canceled.

“We care about the people in the shelters. We want them warm and taken care of and (have) a place to go. But we also have city operations that need to go forward,” Moore said.

After the council meeting Newnan said, “They’re good librarians but if someone needed mental health help, they (the librarians) wouldn’t be able to provide it. Many of the people have no particular mental health problem at all. They are just in a state of financial lack.”

Among the suggestions were mobile showers and the use of Owen Jax Community Center as a place for the homeless to go during the day. According to some council members, the center is not used much.

“Quite a few of the homeless in Warren are veterans,” Newnan said. “I believe veterans should be treated very well.”

Moore made a request to send the issue to the administration. The council was in support.

“Maybe they can work with the community and come up with a plan that would be acceptable to everybody,” Moore said.

Warren Mayor Lori Stone later said she believes public places are for the entire community.

“Our libraries are often sought out as a place of refuge from the elements, a place to warm up, a place to utilize the facilities, and they’re public facilities,” Stone said. “I lead from public facilities being available to the public. It has been flagged for me that odor has been an issue. So I am exploring with library leadership ways that we can help.”

Stone was a member of the Poverty and Homeless Caucus as a member of the Michigan Legislature and says it is an issue that is close to her heart. According to the mayor, she has worked with larger structural solutions. She has heard from experts in the field as well as people who are providers for homeless and food-insecure people.

“It is a pretty complicated conversation on approaches. There are both short-term and long-term solutions that need to be considered,” Stone said. “It is part of my overall priorities. We do not have a game plan in place yet, but it is definitely a focus going forward.”

Calls to Motor City Mitten Mission were not returned at press time.


Residents request resolution for war in Gaza
During the audience participation portion of the meeting, nearly 20 people requested an immediate resolution for a ceasefire in Gaza. Council members indicated they received letters and emails about the issue.

City Council President Angela Rogensues was absent for the Jan. 9 meeting. Magee, the council’s vice president, conducted the meeting and responded to their request.

“Thank you, everyone, for your presence this evening and opening up about your pain in Gaza. I hear you. I empathize with you. And I am truly grateful for each one of you. Your sentiments resonate deeply with me as well,” Magee said.

“I am your city council (member), one of seven. And I am sure you know that we all care about what is happening. But I wanted to let you know, although we do not have a resolution at this time, we wanted to make sure that we stated that we have to go through the legalities in order to move forward. I have been working with Rebeka Islam. She has kept me updated with what is going on, and we will definitely get back with you in the coming day,” Magee said.


Americans with Disabilities Act access
At the meeting on Jan. 9, Moore said she was contacted by a resident asking who the city’s Americans with Disabilities Act compliance officer is.

According to Moore, every government body should have a person who is responsible for ADA compliance with ordinances and regulations, although the titles may vary.

Moore said the resident was instructed to call various departments and each department said they did not handle that. As a result, Moore said she would make a request to the administration to announce the name of the person who handles ADA compliance and to put that information in a conspicuous place on the front page of the city’s website. The council agreed unanimously.

Warren Mayor Lori Stone said, “In the previous administration, the ADA compliance person fell under the title of the human resources director. Currently we are in transition and looking for a new human resources director.”

The previous human resources director was George Dimas, who lost his bid for mayor to Stone.

“Although that position is in transition, it does not mean we do not have it (ADA compliance). We still have accessibility and accommodations being made for our residents with disabilities,” Stone said.

Stone added, “I make my office available if people reach out and need accommodations.”

Communications Director Clarissa Cayton provided a link to ADA information on the city’s website at

“I really encourage residents to reach out directly to us so we can partner with them and make sure we have a clear understanding as to what the expectation is,” Stone said.