Woman Made Her Home Inside a Michigan Grocery Store Sign, Police Say

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A woman found living in the rooftop sign of a grocery store in Michigan had set up the small space to call home with flooring, a Keurig coffee maker and a computer, the authorities said.

The unidentified 34-year-old woman, who was not formally charged with anything, had been living there for about a year, Brennon Warren, a spokesman for the Midland Police Department in Midland, Mich., said in an email.

The police were called by store staff members on April 23 around 2 p.m. after contractors who were working on the roof found her, Officer Warren said.

It is unclear how she was getting up and into the triangular sign on the rooftop of a Family Fare store, he said, estimating the building to be between 15 to 20 feet tall and the space where she had been living to be about 10 to 15 feet in length, five feet wide and approximately six to eight feet “at its highest peak.”

She was told that she was not allowed to live there, and she left without incident, Officer Warren said. He noted that the “store was going to work with her on retrieving all of her property at a later time.”

In addition to the flooring, the Keurig and the computer, the woman also had a mini desk, a printer, a pantry and other miscellaneous items inside the sign, he said. He did not recall exactly what she had for bedding.

“I personally have never encountered a situation like this, and neither have my colleagues,” Officer Warren said.

The woman was provided with information on homeless services in the area, but “she did not wish for any of those,” he said.

SpartanNash, the company that operates Family Fare, said in a statement that it was “proud of our associates for responding to this situation with the utmost compassion and professionalism.”

The statement continued: “Ensuring there is ample safe, affordable housing continues to be a widespread issue nationwide that our community needs to partner in solving. Out of respect for privacy for the individual involved, we will not be sharing further comment.”

Saralyn Temple, the executive director at Midland’s Open Door, a crisis shelter and soup kitchen, said that her organization has seen an increase in the number of people seeking helping “in a variety of ways.”

Ms. Temple said that last year the organization regularly saw about 40 people come in for lunch. “Now we’re seeing in the 50s every day for lunch,” she said.

“The reality of it is people are living in very unique places,” Ms. Temple said. “While the living in the Family Fare sign is a sensational thing, it’s not something that’s new to us who work with the homeless community.”

The organization sees “people weekly who are living in tents in the woods, or who are living in their cars, or who are living in storage units,” she said. “So people are resorting to all sorts of things that are in no way safe.”

Midland is about 130 miles northwest of Detroit. The city had a population of about 42,500 in 2022, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, and roughly 9 percent of its residents were living in poverty.

Living below the poverty line often renders people “invisible,” Ms. Temple said, and can mask the extent of the need for housing and food in the population.



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