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Posted on Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

'It's been a mild winter' for 2 dozen homeless living in tent city near Ann Arbor

By Kyle Feldscher

The 25 people living in Camp Take Notice showed a sunny disposition Tuesday, despite the dipping temperatures and snow covering the village.

It was a normal day that could have been taking place in any neighborhood. Only Camp Take Notice is a tent city just west of Ann Arbor in Scio Township.

The otherwise homeless residents were pushing snow off of the camp’s tents and building a fire in one of the two wood stoves in the main gathering tent. The camp’s cats, cared for by residents, darted around feet and chairs, occasionally taking a break to claw at tree trunks.

Tate Williams, who is spending his fifth winter at the site, said there’s a bond that keeps the residents of the camp going through the winter months. It’s up to the residents of the camp to keep themselves going because the rest of society has seemingly cast them aside, Williams said.

“The only way to get through the winter is the sense of community and camaraderie in the camp,” he said.

Between 20 and 25 people are living at the camp right now, down from a peak of 69 people earlier this year but up from between six and eight residents last winter, Williams said.

The camp is located off Wagner Road between Jackson Road and Elizabeth Road, accessed by a trail situated just beyond a guardrail near M-14. After a short walk, the sprawling camp comes into view, complete with an office, bulletin board advertising religious ceremonies and community meetings and more than 20 tents that stretch into the woods.

About 10 people were milling about the camp Tuesday, keeping warm by the heaters in their tents or hanging out with other residents in the main area. The rest were out looking for jobs, according to camp residents.

Williams emphasized the camp is not a permanent place of residence; instead, it serves as a place where people begin to rebuild their lives. The average length of stay for a person is between two and three months, and people like him, who stick around for longer periods of time in order to help it keep functioning, are rare.

“Part of the reason that I like the hardness aspect of the camp is that (residents) have to contribute,” he said, adding the camp shows people that hard work will result in rewards and failure to comply with the camp’s rules will result in eviction — just like in society.

Camp Take Notice is not a place that exists outside of societal norms, Williams said. Sobriety is required, cleanliness is a must, and all residents are required to contribute to the betterment of the camp. People who disobey those rules are evicted from the encampment.

There are even weekly meetings involving everyone at the camp where residents get the chance to talk about what they want to see from the camp and votes are taken on new rules and expectations, William said. Society may have forgotten about them, but the campers haven’t forgotten how to live in society, he said.

“Otherwise, they might as well go live under a bridge by themselves,” he said.

The Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office makes two patrols through the camp every week, Williams said. Police have previously said that there is a very low amount of crime inside the camp and there's a positive relationship between deputies and residents.

The camp also is getting some international attention from the BBC show Panorama. In a report called "America's Homeless Resort To Tent Cities," members of the camp detail how area shelters are actually referring people to Camp Take Notice because the shelters don't have room for them.

Paul Harris was among the residents chipping in Tuesday afternoon, going from tent to tent brushing snow off of the tarps that hung on strings spanning the length between trees.

He said MISSION, or Michigan Itinerant Shelter System: Interdependent Out of Necessity, helps out the camp residents immensely. MISSION is a nonprofit organization that helps support self-governing tent communities in Michigan, according to its website.

The group has supplied the campers with sleeping bags and heaters, which have helped through the winter months, Harris said. The fact that the typical bitter winter chill hasn’t truly descended on the state this year helps, he said.

“Well, it’s not too bad. It’s been a mild winter,” Harris said with a grin.

Many of the residents at the camp have some sort of mental or physical disability that makes it almost impossible to find work that pays enough to keep a permanent living situation, Williams said. But, Camp Take Notice is purposely set up to be temporary: The residents do not have explicit permission from MDOT to live on the land, he said.

However, they’re doing their part to contribute to society, he said.

The camp has adopted the stretch of Interstate 94 between Jackson Road and Zeeb Road and removes trash from the area, he said. In the time that Camp Take Notice has been located at the Scio Township site — a little more than two years —about 15 years worth of trash has been removed from the area, Williams said.

He said he stopped counting how many full trash bags were taken from the camp after he reached 500.

Jackie Starkey said it’s important for campers to do work that helps out a society that seems to have forgotten about them because it shows that residents still care and still want to be a part of that world.

Starkey is another anomaly: She came to the camp out of need after losing her job in 2011 but now has the ability to go live with one of her three children. However, she remains at the camp because she wanted to live through a winter in a homeless encampment and help give back to the community that helped her.

Most of the residents at the camp have college degrees, Starkey said. The people that live there could be the people who lived in a normal neighborhood not long ago, she said.

“We’re your next door neighbors. We’re no different than you,” she said.

Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.


Holy Cow

Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 2:24 a.m.

I think the bottom line is that none of us know how we would respond if placed in the circumstances these people have faced in their lives. We would have to have the same genes, the same parenting and all the same life circumstances to find out We may think we would respond differently, but who knows?


Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 11:24 p.m.

Let me pose a scenerio. Say if I walked out to the encampment and handed each one of the "down on their luck" residents $25000. Where do you think these folk would be in a year? What percentage do you think would have a solid roof over their heads, be working a job, and not abusing alcohol or drugs?

Holy Cow

Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 10:28 p.m.

Some people are making generalized statements that "shelters are available". I bet the people making these statements have very little idea of what the shelter situation is. While I am no expert on the situation I have volunteered at the Delonis Center once a week for two years and do know that the shelters such as this one are only available for a short term basis and that they have to turn many people away who seek help there. As I said I am no expert, but I find it irritating when people make generalizations without knowing any facts at all.


Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 4:45 p.m.

Maybe the group living there can make a few bucks by publishing a cookbook.


Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 2:22 p.m.

This type of "squatting" wouldn't normally be tolerated in most other communities, but we are living near a town which the dominant leftist faction has deemed a "sanctuary city", so what do you expect? Illegal aliens roam the area, untouched by the authorities, so why not this group too? It is easy to predict that at some point there will be some rough incidents out at the "homeless encampment" which may cause the powers that be to decide that this cozy crowd will no longer be able to live in the underbrush near the expressway. That will motivate some of these folks to face up to the realities of life and seek healthier and more fulfilling pursuits.

Hot Sam

Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 2:10 p.m.

My earlier post brought some predictable responses… Thank you Sub for the libel correction…sometimes spell check gets us in trouble if we are in a hurry… Some folks confuse the desire for the rule of law with a lack of compassion. Nothing could be further from the truth. I sat on the county board when our local shelter was built and have studied the situation extensively. We have one of the best programs in the country. The people who run it are stellar. Many posters bring up the rules at Delonis…therein lies the rub for many. You need to want to change your situation when you enter. Most people who enter with that desire get the help they need. It seems it takes a lot of stamina and energy to survive in a tent in the woods…energy that could be used to get a job, share an apartment, and work your way out of your situation.


Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 5:25 a.m.

I love all these comments stating how no one could afford to live indoors if they just make minimum wage and how we are all just a week or two away from homelessness. This is simply not true. I lived in Ann Arbor inside even with furniture, owned a truck (old and beat up but working), cell phone, internet, and cable all while working menial jobs while going to school. I did not have to use food stamps or any other form of government aid and I did it for 5 years. This wasn't back when bread was a nickle either it was 2002 -2007. These people should all be removed from state owned land. They are squatters and should be treated as such. I for one would not want one let alone dozens of adults wandering in the woods behind my home defecating and urinating where ever they please. Leaving out food that will attract rodents and doing god knows what else. I'm sorry that these people seem to have no other options other than to live in the woods (other than working and finding a place to live) but what they are doing is against the law and should be treated as such.


Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 4:25 a.m.

It was visible on Google maps but they've updated the image and see only one tent. Failure is always a possibility or a choice in a free society. These people could have been one bad week away from this life for years.

Ricardo Queso

Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 4:14 a.m.

Seriously, just how are they handling their sewage? Is the county waiting for the first case of typhus before shutting them down?


Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 3:23 p.m.

It was the first thing to cross my mind, too. I suspect they have porta-potties, but I didn't see it mentioned. If so, it would put them one step above occupy, who has been creating piles of the stuff in parks and drain sewers.


Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 1:03 a.m.

In other news, "Save the Children" issued a report today indicating that malnutrition contributes to the deaths of 2.6 million children each year.


Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 12:52 a.m.

How do you evict others, when you squat on public land? I find this article to be pretty bias and giving a positive spin on the situation. Everyday, as I drive to work and pass this camp, I often wonder how the neighbors, who own homes, feel about their property value decreasing. Those here commenting on how insensitive others are about these homeless people, I hate to say that they don't sound homeless to me. They appear and sound like they will take claim of this property after squatting long enough. Also, if you care this much, then what have you done to help those in need? If a tent camp was popping up in your backyard, I am sure you would feel different. When you have a group of people willing to squat on property illegally and willing live in tents when they have other choices........... If people have real physical disabilities, they would be qualified for social security and other social programs. We shouldn't be promoting this way of life, but asking our politicians what they are willing to do to help those in need. So desperate, they would live in a tent.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 9:24 p.m.

I hate to burst all of your bubbles but most of us are just one slip up from being homeless...what situation would you be in next month if you lost your job today? Yes, jobs are available but in order to even rent something , a minimum wage job isn't going to do it! Have a little compassion!


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 9:47 p.m.

"most of us are just one slip up from being homeless" You may be right. But how many credit cards do you have? How many are maxed out? Do you have an new car, boat, RV, membership to the gym, hair appointment every week, vacation every year? There are some that are homeless through no fault of their own. I would never question that. But far too many have lived or are living like the money will always be there!


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 8:59 p.m.

I have questions about this. I worked in the homeless system in Lansing for five years. The people that preferred to live outside did so because they did not want to comply with the requirements of the public shelters (sobriety, job searching, etc). In fact, I only knew of those struggling with very serious addictions to choose to stay outside. I'm sure the shelter system in Ann Arbor has more information about this place. What not stay indoors, or somewhere that has access to case management services that can be of long-term help?

Hot Sam

Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

You are absolutely right Lucy...I would bet if you got them off the record, the leaders at the shelter association would not approve of this approach...they will never say it on the record though...


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 8:29 p.m.

Wow...where is the human compassion? Some of these folks have a mental or physical disability. Some probably can't get those minimum wage jobs because employers won't hire them when they put down they live in a homeless tent camp on their application. Some don't have family to give them a hand up. Whatever the reason, they deserve compassion. The comments here are sad.


Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 4:51 p.m.

Happy, tell us what you are doing to help or are you helping by just thinking liberal thoughts?


Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 3:14 a.m.

Actually, yes I am.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 9:41 p.m.

Happy are you doing anything to help? Sad!

Berda Green

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 7 p.m.

wish them the best


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:32 p.m.

"The camp also is getting some international attention from the BBC show Panorama. In a report called 'America's Homeless Resort To Tent Cities,' members of the camp detail how area shelters are actually referring people to Camp Take Notice because the shelters don't have room for them." Do we know that the area shelters are referring people to Camp Take Notice, or is the article just repeating heresay from the campers? I'd like to know if that is a valid statement. It seems to me this camp's residents in the beginning were taking a philosophical stand and didn't want to be in a public-supported shelters but preferred to remain independent. The lady at the end of the article can go live with one of her children but chooses to stay in her tent for philosophical reasons. Are other members choose to stay there because they want to? If so, God bless them. If they are forced to stay there because as a society we haven't kept up with demand for shelter, then shame on us. I just can't tell from the article what we're looking at here.

Kyle Feldscher

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 9:01 p.m.

MixedStock- Here's the link to the BBC piece. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 7:40 p.m.

Some of the folks who stay on with the camp, like Janet, become board members and stay on to create continuity in managing the camp. The &quot;giving back&quot; mentioned in the article is exactly that. She works to benefit the camp, doing management and physical labor on behalf of the camp.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 5:48 p.m.

I personally went to the camp, and with the help of some of the campers, loaded up and hauled about 4 large loads of fire wood to the camp. These guys worked hard, were courteous and polite, and willing to do whatever necessary to get the job done. In response to RS, Homelessness is not necessarily a choice or a consequence! In some cases you may be right, but you can't paint all of these people with the same brush. The panhandlers in Ann Arbor are MOSTLY long time residents who are on assistance, have housing, and simply use the money they get to buy drugs or liquor. I see the same faces on campus every day for many years, and not one of those folks are living at Camp Take Notice! You can't be there if you are high or drunk. Shelters are sometime pretty scary places, not safe for you, your stuff isn't safe, and the bed space is very limited. If you don't get there by a certain time you can't get a bed because they are all claimed. You can't warehouse people and say that it works for everyone. I agree with many of the commenters that cigarrettes are expensive and a poor use of ones money, but have you EVER dealt with an addiction? My husband smoked for 40 years, and it took an extended hospital stay to get him to quit. Not for lack of mental fortitude, not because of laziness either. He didn't quit because of the increased cost, and he explains the need for nicotine to be much like the worst hunger you have ever experienced. THAT is what addiction feels like, and why it isn't easy to just wish away. Before you call them panhandlers, addicts, or people who make bad choices and live this way because they deserve it, go out and see what you can do to help them! Take a couple of nice clean blankets or pillows to donate, maybe some food or toiletries. Talk to them and pray for them, but for goodness sake, stop complaining because they exist.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 4:57 p.m.

I own a home near Camp Take Notice. At first I was alarmed by all the people headed down there every day and thought maybe that it was just a place where homeless people went to do drugs and party and sleep. I have to say that I'm not really alarmed anymore. After seeing some of the photographs, it looks like they are running a tight ship. There has been no uptick in crime around this area and I think most people in this neighborhood feel pretty safe. I also want to make a point that I was homeless at one point in my life. I lived out my car and had a full-time job, it was at a Holiday Inn, and I was making $4.50 per hour. Add that up and go figure why I was homeless. Minimum wage jobs just don't cut it. Rent is too high, food is too expensive, and healthcare is way out the scope for someone who is making minimum wage. I remember feeling really out of touch with everything going on around me. I would walk by restaurants and see people spending large amounts of money on extravagant dinners and drinks, laughing, having fun, while I was barely scraping by. It was hard to find anywhere to sleep at night, most of the time I would get kicked out of parking lots, and parks. I think this camp provides a stepping stone for people to succeed. The guy running this camp isn't lazy, he's motivated to help people in need. If he was lazy, he'd go get a job like some of us have, get paid, live in comfort and forget about the have nots of society. Instead of complaining about whether or not they have permits to live there, why not chip in and help someone out. Need your lawn mowed? Your driveway shoveled? Go post it on their job board. I'm sure most people down there would be happy to do anything to make $20-$30. If you're so bent out of shape that they get to live down there for free, then go join them. I bet after one night in the cold you will be right back on your warm couch, watching the Wings, tossing back a cold one.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 9:30 p.m.

Harry, so if you're in debt just simply file for bankruptcy? Sounds so easy. Good luck on finding an apartment for the next 10 years. Isn't that how the whole system failed in the first place?


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 8:44 p.m.

Come on Gaylene figure it out. (7.25x 40 x52) /12 equals $1256 per month. I figured 20% tax which is very high. Chances are they would pay almost zero except for FICA. Security deposite of on to two month will do wonders with bad credit. Debt??? Its called bankrupcy. Obviously if they are homeless they wont be making a credit card payment.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:47 p.m.

Right on, Papa. Its easy to snipe at these folks. My son is living on full time minimum wage now and finds it very hard to live. If anything happened, he would have to come home and if he didn't have me, to Camp Freedom. Camp Freedom is a result of thirty years of making the rich richer, the poor poorer, tax cuts, a for profit healthcare system (100,000 bankruptcies a year for health care bills), and on and on. The people that have engineered this and their supporters do not see the this as a problem. They have their money and houses and blame the poor for their situation. Maybe in November we can turn things around at the ballot box.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:19 p.m.

Usual Suspect, yes, I said lazy. I know so many people out there that get paid really well to surf the internet , post on facebook all day, hide from their bosses, cheat the system, do sub-par work, and find it okay.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:09 p.m.

$1000 after taxes is only about $750, take that into account with the cost of transportation (bus isn't free) medical if you get sick, and groceries. I personally would rather live in a tent than live in Anderson appartments. You can save up enough to actually get a decent place with a decent landlord


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:01 p.m.

Harry, I agree with you that someone could survive on minimum wage...if they had decent credit, no debt, and no children. A lot of times homeless people are homeless because of hardships. Their credit got ruined in the process and no one will approve them for an apartment.

Usual Suspect

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 5:50 p.m.

&quot;If he was lazy, he'd go get a job&quot; What the heck?


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 5:50 p.m.

I have had the opportunity to personally visit Camp Take Notice on one ocassion and seeing is believing. I got to jump back into a warm car and go home. Talking with some of the resdidents, they have no other choice than to live like this and God forbid, it could be you or I. Some of them do work and when I was there, we fed them and ministered to them from my church. I witnessed people who were not looking for a handout , but someone willing to care. Before another negative comment is made, go visit and see for yourself....@Pappa, great comment and thanks for being sensitive to those in need


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 5:30 p.m.

I disagree. At minimum wage ($7.25) that is about $1,000 per month. Russel anderson in Ypsi is $450 per month. That includes heat. That still leave $550 for food and clothing. Yes you will be taking a bus to a lot of places. Yes I only mentioned food shelter and clothing . Just the basics thats all that needs to be met.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 4:48 p.m.

It's up to the residents of the camp to keep themselves going because the rest of society has seemingly cast them aside, Williams said&quot; While I applaud their grit and determination. And have no problem with them staying there. I take issue with the previous statement by Mr Williams. Would Mr Williams even be able to calculate how much the camp residents have received over the years in PUBLIC assistance in one form or another? That assistance was provided them by the same &quot;Society&quot; he says has &quot;cast them aside&quot;!


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 8:46 p.m.

Baloney! I don't mind helping anyone. But don't spit in my face while I'm doing it! I am sure most of those at camp freedom have at some time or another paid something into the system that they have relied on. But now tell me how many there are there that do not get anything from the public trough! I have drawn about 10 weeks of unemployment in my life. And even that does not allow me Barton Hills. And I would bet I have paid more more in taxes in my life than any of them! But you want them to have everything I have WITHOUT working for it!


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:32 p.m.

Public assistance only allows them Camp Freedom, not Barton Hills and thanks to the Rickster and his compassionless minions, it will allow much less than Camp Freedom soon.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 4:41 p.m.

The high cost of housing is driving these people to homelessness. Minimum wage jobs simply do not allow for people to pay the rent in this area, and then there is the problem of transportation. Buses don't even run on Sundays and very little on Saturdays. Forget owning even an older used car. On minimum wages, you aren't going to be able to pay for car insurance, and forget health insurance. Doesn't exist at Walmart, McD's and other places that are hiring part timers at very low wages. Homelessness is a real problem and the waiting lists for so-called affordable housing are long. Even during the housing bust, rental rates did not come down, in fact, in some areas, they went up. What are people supposed to do that have no where to live? Area shelters fill up and there are limits on how long you can stay. These camps are one solution, albeit a temporary one.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 4:22 p.m.

&quot;Many of the residents at the camp have some sort of mental or physical disability that makes it almost impossible to find work that pays enough to keep a permanent living situation, Williams said. But, Camp Take Notice is purposely set up to be temporary: The residents do not have explicit permission from MDOT to live on the land, he said.&quot; That begs the question - why are they allowed to stay there? &quot;Tate Williams, who is spending his fifth winter at the site.......&quot; 5 winters in a tent appears to be a choice. Where is he staying during the summer? If a person is working even a minimum wage job and living rent free and receiving donations, seems to me they should be able to save a large percentage of their money and &quot;move out&quot;. That being said, how many of these &quot;residents&quot; are getting SSI, bridge cards....?


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 7:46 p.m.

Tate stays on to help manage the camp. He is the contact for donations and work opportunities. He is the liaison with MISSION. He stays to maintain continuity in the management of the camp so that it doesn't fall into some of the problems that other tent &quot;cities&quot; have had. Can you imagine the element that would occupy the camp if there WEREN&quot;T some kind of management and rule enforcement set up? It is a form of giving back. Go meet him! Great guy, hard worker! He is constantly advocating for the residents to provide a safe environment for the camp and for the surrounding community.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 4:21 p.m.

Here is a review from one of the neighbors at Arbor Landings: And third, Camp Take Notice (a tent city located just across Wagner Road from Arbor Landings) has grown dramatically, and with it the associated problems of increased traffic on Wagner Road and increased crime in the surrounding neighborhood. People can pretend all they want and pat themselves on the back for &quot;caring&quot;, but the reality is that all of Washtenaw County is dumping its homeless in Arbor Landings' backyard. Enough is enough. After more than twelve years here, I'm gone next April. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Expand Michaels review from Nov 21.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 11:46 p.m.

clownfish or enso, just wondering if you live near camp take notice, obviously eye hart does


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:03 p.m.



Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 5:59 p.m.

Please re-read my post, paying attention to the context and what is actually written. You will note that it was written by a person named Michael. It was posted on that there new fangled intformation super highway. Michael is not me.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 4:25 p.m.

Bye. Where are you going?


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 3:56 p.m.

These people are trespassing; they are homeless because they want to be. Even the name "Camp take notice" is revealing, this camp is nothing more than a misguided social statement. "failure to comply with the camp's rules will result in eviction" What kind nonsense is this, every person at this "camp" is there illegally on state owned land, what if I wanted to pitch a tent there, by what authority could "they" evict me or anybody else for that matter. "William said. Society may have forgotten about them, but the campers haven't forgotten how to live in society, he said" That's total B.S – these people have shunned society. We are supporting the life style they have chosen by providing sleeping bags, heaters, firewood, food and etc As long as we provide for the "residents", they will continue to stay

Homeland Conspiracy

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 9:15 p.m.

SalineBob We both know Tanzor wouldn't last a day out there.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 5:40 p.m.

Tanzor asks &quot;What if I wanted to pitch a tent there&quot; and &quot;What kind of nonsense is this? My suggestion is to join them. Pitch your own tent. Find out firsthand what kind of nonsense it is. Then you might come to a better understanding.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 4:19 p.m.

Filled with love, are Ye?


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 3:26 p.m.

What does it tell us when, in a column about homelessness, and a group of people that have banded together to fight that with no gripes from the cops, that so many posts have to be removed from this site? Christian Nation or Rush Limbaugh Nation?


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 7:02 p.m.

Well for me it says likes to censor peoples voices, but other than that you make a good point


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 3:40 p.m.

Constantinian Christians. Aligned with the powers that be, not with the word of God.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 3 p.m.

Maybe some of our more judgmental posters could go down and offer up some of the jobs they created with their tax breaks?


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 10:06 p.m.

Maybe they already have, you might even work for one if you are employed.............


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 4:22 p.m.

You're being pretty judgemental here as well. Perhaps you have a job to offer?


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 2:55 p.m.

It is too easy to dismiss those less fortunate and in need of help as irresponsible or lazy. That logic in and of itself is lazy and irresponsible. We tend to distance ourselves from those that are in need because it immediately reminds us of our own vulnerabilities and that we all are just one untimely layoff or catastrophic illness away from living in a tent alongside M-14. Embrace and accept your own vulnerabilities. The fear of which may be the root of our aversion to the needy around us.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 10:07 p.m.

Thanks for the psychological analysis...............

Homeland Conspiracy

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 9:12 p.m.

Nailed it...well said


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 2:46 p.m.

Most of the commentators on this page are incredibly ignorant. They come across as so angry and pathetic in their own life that they take it out on the most vulnerable in society. Their regular arguments don't work: &quot;homeless people are a bunch of drunks and drug addicts.&quot; Not at Camp Take Notice. &quot;Just go get a job&quot; Many of them have a job. So they resort to their last ignorant argument: &quot;They are just lazy!.&quot; Sorry, but lazy is sitting in your comfy home in front of the tv watching fox news and hating people different than you. Lazy is not sleeping in a tent in the winter. Wow! That's real big of you! Picking on people with nothing. Just a reminder to these angry commentators... you're a lot closer to homelessness than you think.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 3:27 a.m.

Well said.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 9:32 p.m.

Rich &amp; justcurious Well it WAS said by Enso! But that does not mean it's right! Enso &quot;It's what I do for a living. And most Christian's aren't conservative.&quot; Please site you source for this statement!


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 8:52 p.m.

@Gaylene It's what I do for a living. And most Christian's aren't conservative.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 8:02 p.m.

Sorry, but I am a conservative, and I don't appreciate the stereotype that only conservatives sit in their comfy homes and watch tv (Fox News) and hate people. I didn't notice any Liberals out there the multiple times I and my friends went out with donations. It is usually Christian churches that are out there making food donations every week, not liberal organizations like one you might choose to belong to. Are you actually in the trenches caring for people out of your own pocket and your own time, or are you passing judgement on others as you (somewhat justifiably) have done here?


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 7:01 p.m.

&quot;Sorry, but lazy is sitting in your comfy home in front of the tv watching fox news and hating people different than you. Lazy is not sleeping in a tent in the winter. &quot; Excellent post sir/madam!


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 4 p.m.

Well said Enso.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 3:26 p.m.

Well said!


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

I am appalled at the ignorant and hateful comments I have seen on this page. Drive past the camp on any given day and you will see residents getting on the bus to go to work. Nobody chooses to be homeless. Try coming up with a security deposit for an apartment in A2 on minimum wage. Homelessness can happen to anyone.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 5:22 p.m.

Actually, Rich, there are plenty of people who choose to be homeless, just like there are plenty of people who choose to work less because if they make too much they'll lose some kind of government assistance benefit. I personally have known 4 people who consciously made the choice to buy extravagant items instead of paying rent, then got evicted, lived with parents, kicked out by parents, lived with friends, kicked out by friends, etc., because they continued to make horrendous (and insulting to people who where helping them out) decisions. You might be correct in that, asked the question &quot;would you like to live in a home or be homeless&quot; everyone would answer &quot;live in a home,&quot; but that doesn't mean that they would never, by conscious action (or inaction) become homeless. One of those people actually had a chance to get a debt reduction loan, and they used every cent of it on a huge television, hot tub, and exercise machine, all while at their 4th notice from landlord, 3rd from credit cards, etc. etc. Another ADVISED me to buy something expensive, like a car, and then declare bankruptcy, because it worked super awesome for them. They also got evicted (eventually), only to move somewhere else and not pay rent. This stuff DOES happen. I'm not saying this Camp Take Notice group is comprised of these people, but there are plenty of them out there.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 1:52 p.m.

Move to the Quad. Set up there, and eat and shower at the dorms. Great chance for students and administration to get involved and pitch in.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 1:50 p.m.

Part of the problem is we encourage people who look down their nose at people who have full time jobs at McDonalds. Society now thinks you are better off unemployed, taking welfare than working at what was once a starter job, learning job skills, then improving your employement through hard work and education.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

Snobbery and social class prejudice is and always has been a major feature in the cultural milieu of Ann Arbor. The basic dignity had by gainful employment is simply absent. Sad.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

They can afford to smoke cigarettes but can't get a job? Smoking is not inexpensive...........Where do they get the money for that? Panhandling and welfare? There are minimum wage jobs but why would you take one with all of the safety nets out there? It doesn't make economic sense for most people to work at low paying jobs anymore because the government gives them &quot;free money&quot;. Who can blame them? In the mean time we as a society destroy their work ethic and they truly become dependent with not even the most basic skills required to hold a job like getting out of bed in the morning, showing up on time, and putting in 8 hours of work. We're ruining these people..............although we are building a pretty sizable Democrat voting bloc so I guess that is the bright side.......


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 9:18 p.m.

@Gail - first of all I'm not a Mitt Romney fan but I can guarantee you he gives more as a percetage of his gross income (15%) than most including you or I to charity. Why you picked a man who gives this much shows you may be misinformed. Secondly, these are not sterotypes they are my life experiences. I've actaully heard the &quot;free money&quot; comment more than once with my own ears and know a number of people on unemployment, food stamps, and welfare who won't take such a low paying job. It makes perfect sense to not work from a financial perspective. You must be rich and out of touch with what's going on in the streets............


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:57 p.m.

He does have a point, smoking is not something someone who has no job or home should be even considering. It costs money to buy cigarettes where does that come from? Why cant the money that is spent on cigs be saved for something else like maybe an apt or decent food and living supplies? I don't usually agree with bashing the homeless but on this one point he is right


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

@Mike: Any additional stereotypes regarding the homeless you'd like to comment on? Guess you'll be voting for Mitt (&quot;I don't care about the poor&quot;) Romney.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 1:12 p.m.

I guess this camp is OK since it's farther away from A2 (remember A2-Saline Road?). Oh wait, isn't this camp on state property as well? I wish the A2 News would get comments from local residents about how they feel with the camp in their back yard or what they have experienced with this camp. Up to 69 people in the summer. This is larger than some towns in northern Michigan. Would anyone want to buy a home by this camp? We have programs in place where people can get assistance. We pay taxes on our property. We follow the rules. Why is it that these people get a pass on following the rules? This will only lead to more camps (just not close to A2). We are only enabling these people.


Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 1:26 a.m.

@sarden - I live near the &quot;camp&quot; and I am not happy about it! They need to move out!


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 1:10 p.m.

The insensitive nature of some of these comments continues to astound me. While there may be jobs out there, most do not pay a living wage. While there may be shelters most, if not all, are at capacity. Lack of affordable housing is a huge issue in our ommunity. Have some compassion people as maybe someday it will be you, or someone you know, who is in this situation.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 9:27 p.m.

how do those that don't make the &quot;high&quot; wages in a2 survive? There are plenty of low level, unskilled workers in town that do just that.

Homeland Conspiracy

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 9:05 p.m.

I agree there seems to be a lot of Ayn Rand reader on The Delonis Center have rules that make it very hard to work &amp; live there...You work at night, forget about it your not aloud to have a night job &amp; live at the Delonis Center. That is just 1 of the rules I remember there are many more that stand in the way of working &amp; living at the Delonis Center


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 8:14 p.m.

Or - maybe some people have been through this - losing their jobs, homes, families but battled on and fought to get those things back so they know it can be done. They never settled for less or blamed others and knew the american dream can be brutal, even to those who work hard but it can be achived, over and over if need be. What you call insenstive could be a lack of understanding on YOUR part!


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:55 p.m.

The worst part is the censors come and remove everyone else's post but leaves up the ones where people are speculating and passing judgement on people they don't even know! What a hypocritical and shameful stance takes!


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 2 p.m.

@Gail &quot;Insensitive&quot;? Try down right hateful. I wonder how well many of these snarky types would do if they had a major economic or personal catastrophe occur in their lives?

Wolf's Bane

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.

Strange place. I find it even stranger that they can't get temporary shelter in one of our many foreclosed homes around the city. It seems like they truly are falling through the cracks.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 4:11 p.m.

Foreclosed or not. Somebody owns it and you can't just move inot to somebody elses land or house.....although that seems to be what they did here.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 1:06 p.m.

Tate Williams says this: &quot;It's up to the residents of the camp to keep themselves going because the rest of society has seemingly cast them aside&quot; Really? Maybe if Mr. Tate stopped blaming others for &quot;casting them aside&quot; he wouldn't have lived in a tent for the last 5 years. I would like to recast that statement: &quot;It's up to the residents to do whatever it takes to find a job (any job) and to get their crap together because the rest of the world is struggling and has little sympathy for people that haven't taken their lives seriously until it went disastrously wrong.&quot; Unless you have a serious mental illness, any excuse for long term homelessness is tired and lame.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 1:02 p.m.

I do not begrudge anyone homeless shelter, however, Camp Take Notice is to me just another example of the double standard in the application of the law in our city and county. If I pitch my tent illegally I will be carted off and fined. If I say I am down and out, I will be allowed to do basically whatever my heart desires. If I am driving down 94 and one of these guys slips in front of me while doing the work MDOT gets paid for - I am totally screwed. But, hey, I am supposed to just breath deeply and accept that I have less rights in AA or Wash County than some guy who doesn't pay taxes and poohs in the woods.


Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 3:16 p.m.

&quot;...some guy who...poohs in the woods.&quot; You got me laughing with that one!


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 12:59 p.m.

It is an easy thing to triumph in the summers sun And in the vintage &amp; to sing on the waggon loaded with corn It is an easy thing to talk of patience to the afflicted To speak of the laws of prudence to the homeless wanderer To listen to the hungry raven cry in wintry season When the red blood is filld with wind &amp; with the marrow of lambs It is an easy thing to laugh at wrathful elements To hear the dog howl at the wintry door, the ox in the slaughter house moan To see go on every wind and a blessing on every blast To hear sounds of love in the thunder storm that destroys our enemies house To rejoice in the blight that covers his field &amp; sickness that cuts off his children While our olive &amp; vine sing &amp; laugh round our door &amp; children bring fruit and flowers. - Wm Blake Unemployment stands above 9%. I'm sure these folks are living in the cold and snow out of choice - too lazy to work. Happy campers every one!


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

As I read the story it reminded me of our forefathers when they came to Michigan. Why dont the camper build log houses, collect and gather for winter and farm during the summer. Police don't mind that they are there. Our forefathers survived this way. I woud think its better than tents.

Homeland Conspiracy

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 8:57 p.m.



Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:53 p.m.

You can't just cut down trees and make a home those trees belong to someone or something. It's one thing to squat on the land in a removable tent, it's a whole different ballgame if you start cutting down trees and trying to erect permanent structures like that. I can assure you that if these people tried making a permanent building there using the surrounding woods there would be a huge uproar about it from the city and county about it

Homeland Conspiracy

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 5:24 p.m.

Are &quot;forefathers also burned ppl as witches!

Ricardo Queso

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 12:45 p.m.

Culver's is hiring!


Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 11:19 p.m.

If they don't apply for a job, they can always panhandle with the customers.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 12:22 p.m.

This is a choice and not a consequence of society. There are jobs out there for people that want them and shelters for people that can't get employment. Its like the 20-something pan handlers downtown; if they put as much effort in job hunting as they did sitting around playing the victim, they'd be much further ahead.

Hot Sam

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 12:02 p.m.

Just wondering... Is there a septic system that meets code? Recently I saw them building steps with some railroad ties... Do the steps meet code? Was a permit issued for the construction of the stairs? Who is libel for any injuries that occur on these stairs? Why do some folks get to circumvent the law and the rest of us don't?

Homeland Conspiracy

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 8:56 p.m.

leaguebus I have a feeling that a lot ppl are reading way to much Ayn Rand


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:28 p.m.

I think they are doing the best they can with what they have at the moment, so maybe they get cut a little slack. Also, it's &quot;Liable&quot; not &quot;Libel&quot;. Two very different meanings.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:20 p.m.

I am truly amazed at peoples lack of compassion for the unfortunate. Especially when they show it in this blog.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 5:40 p.m.

I was wondering the same thing. How are they able to build things without permits or inspections, like everybody else is required to do.

Homeland Conspiracy

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 5:23 p.m.

Wow!!! all you can care about are &quot;codes&quot;


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 5:18 p.m.

No septic tanks, does not meet any city or county codes, no permits, and the tax payer is libel for any misfortunes.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 12:20 p.m.

The same reason that the government can underwrite solar panel companies and movie production while raising the debt load.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 11:44 a.m.

Sounds likes this group have it pretty much together -- rules to assess help keep peace within the camp, responsibilities for everyone. Some come and are able to move on. Think who is running the camp is doing a fine job. Hope eventually all will be able to get back on their feet.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 8:58 p.m.

Some of my post might indicate otherwise. But I agree with you. I have more of a problem with the do gooder's than the homeless. Sometimes I think this group would be better in city hall than what we have!

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 11:41 a.m.

Thanks to the BBC for reporting on the homeless in Ann Arbor. &quot;The 25 people living in Camp Take Notice showed a sunny disposition Tuesday, despite the dipping temperatures and snow covering the village.&quot; If I wrote a lede like this...oh never mind.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 11:34 a.m.

Some important distinctions are made in this article. Contrary to popular belief in this economy, jobs are out there. Unfortunately, good jobs (careers) are increasingly hard to find, even if you are educated and have experience. Having mental and physical limitations only makes it harder. And to anyone who has a bad thing to say about the homeless, keep in mind that many people (even those with good jobs/careers) live paycheck to paycheck, which means they are one unforeseen problem away from possibly dealing with homelessness. At least this group of people contributes to cleaning up the area and tries to better themselves. Good luck to everyone at Camp Take Notice


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 9:26 p.m.

@silly sally We had an emergency fund, the water heater burst and damaged (beyond repair) the furnace we are now fully living pay check to pay check. The cost of a new furnace and water heater totally wiped out all available emergency funds and all other moneys for the rest of the months bills. If this happened in the summer that would be different but not in the winter even though this year has been wonderfully warmer than expected.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 8:55 p.m.

Homeland Conspiracy You are wrong! when you say &quot;You'er 1 of the lucky ones to have &quot;a stash&quot; Having a &quot;stash&quot; does not come by luck! It come by hard work and sacrifice for most! We did not have a boat, snowmobile, yearly vacation. Like so many of today's &quot;poor&quot; I know people that can barley make ends meet. BUT they manage to go on vacation every year! It's amazing how high on the hog you can live with a credit card. UNTIL they have the nerve to ask you to PAY for what you have!


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 8:09 p.m.

What used to pass for poor is now different. Poor folk did not have cell phones or Ipads of iPods of their day unlike many of todays &quot;poor.&quot; There are numerous reasons why people lose everything but one reason is new to the current crop beyond a doubt - living beyond your means. I have news for you, if you are broke you don't get to have nice stuff - you are lucky to have any stuff!

Homeland Conspiracy

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 5:20 p.m.

@Silly Sally You'er 1 of the lucky ones to have &quot;a stash&quot;. Cell phones can be gotten for free &amp; you can buy mins. cheaply. There are 1000's of ppl living &quot;paycheck to &quot;paycheck! Let's hope you never have to walk a mile in their shoes or better yet maybe you should, then you would learn a little bit about understanding the hardships of others .

Silly Sally

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

Why would anyone &quot;live paycheck to paycheck&quot;, and then have cell pnones, go to movies, and other things.? I'd always have a &quot;stash&quot; and not Obama's stash. After that, I then can spend for cell phones, movies, and the good life. But never be one pay check away... Madness, of silliness.

Smart Logic

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 11:58 a.m.

You bring up an interesting point, A2James. However, living paycheck to paycheck for those people with good jobs and careers isn't excusable. You need to have less nice stuff in the right here and now and keep a contingency fund. I have just an OK job but always pay my mortgage and other bills for my reasonably sized home. I also drive old, practical, inexpensive vehicles and live overly practically. It's amazing how much you save purchasing (not leasing) a practical used vehicle with cash and driving it until it's impractically expensive to fix.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 11:28 a.m.

I'm not trying to be insinuative or taking homelessness lightly...I'm trying to think of a way to so say this with out upsetting anyone.I'll just say their spirits look much higher than mine would be in their circumstances .And most of them don't look like drunks or drug addicts , but I know you can't judge a book by it's cover.....I'm just say'in

Homeland Conspiracy

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 8:52 p.m.

cinnabar7071 has never been there. So hasn't a clue of what he/she is talking about. But I bet that has never stopped him/her before.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 8:48 p.m.

cinnabar I think we are in agreement on most things. But I do believe they police their own camp pretty well.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:11 p.m.

&quot;As far I know drunks or drug addicts are not aloud there...&quot; Whos going to stop them? The sheriff?

Homeland Conspiracy

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 5:11 p.m.

As far I know drunks or drug addicts are not aloud there...