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Alumni-created film takes deeper look into homelessness in America

Students and staff alike packed the Charles V. Park Library Auditorium tonight for  “Storied Streets: Profiles of America’s Homelessness."

The film was created by Central Michigan University alumni Thomas Morgan and shown in the auditorium, as well as broadcast to Saginaw Valley State University's Curtiss Hall for viewing. 

Following the film, a panel was held with Cedric Taylor, a sociology faculty member, Director of the Michigan Coalition against Homelessness Eric Hufnagel, Kim Carrion, executive director of the Mount Pleasant housing commission and Doug Mindel, a former homeless man who now lives in Mount Pleasant.

“(Morgan) wanted to shed more of a light on the topic locally,” said Public Broadcasting Program Outreach Manager Linda Dielman.

People are under informed when it comes to knowing the hard facts about homeless people, not realizing that they aren’t just bums on the streets, Morgan said.

The movie itself was a series of stories about people across the nation who were or are currently homeless and their struggles survive in today's society.

Many of the 40 people in the room showed an interest in the discussion panel following the film. Several questions were sent in anonymously through websites the film was streamed on.

“When encountering a homeless person, what should we do," said an anonymous submitter. "Should we try to help?”

Mindel said from his experience, most homeless people are not homeless at all.

“Don’t do anything, go about your life," he said. "(The homeless person) is most likely being a con artist, their brand new Cadillac is probably sitting in the Meijer parking lot.”

Mindel found himself homeless by choice. He said he didn’t enjoy the life he was living, so he packed up two bags full of his belongings and left, never looking back. He never saw himself as homeless. During his time being homeless, Mindel made a living through "cleaning up the community," collecting discarded bottles and cans.

It wasn't until a mailman talked to him, who saw Mindel on his route every day, did Mindel get the assistance he needed. Mindel said when the man finally realized he was homeless, the mailman offered to help. Mindel declined, but the mailman told him he would "come to his senses." Once it became winter, Mindel finally took the mailman up on his offer and the two found him "funded housing."

“The film really put things into a new perspective”, said freshman Summer Varner.

Varner said she did not realize the true effect being homelessness had on people or how they ended up in the streets to begin with.

Senior Sydney Koch said the movie was helpful into shedding light on the topic of homelessness in a way that was easy to understand.

“I thought it was very powerful and impactful," she said. "It gave great insight into a group of people who are stigmatized and stereotyped.”

About 1.5 million children yearly are homeless, according to the film, and 600,000 of those people are children under the age of five.

There are about four times as many animal shelters than homeless people shelters in the U.S. It costs three times as much to put someone in jail and five times as much to put someone in an institution versus putting them into a house, according to Morgan's film