Police say woman made her home inside grocery store's rooftop sign

A woman living on the roof of a grocery store in Michigan had created a small space for a home complete with flooring, a Keurig coffee maker and a computer, authorities said.

The unidentified 34-year-old woman, who has not been formally charged, had lived there for about a year, Brennan Warren, a spokesperson for the Midland Police Department in Midland, Michigan, said in an email.

Officer Warren said police were called by store staff members around 2 a.m. on April 23 after contractors working on the roof spotted her.

While it's not clear how she was climbing onto the roof of the Family Fare store and into the triangular sign, he said, he estimated the building to be 15 to 20 feet tall and the space where she was staying was about 10 to 10 feet tall. Will be 15 feet high. feet in length, five feet wide and about six to eight feet “at its highest peak.”

She was told she was not allowed to be there and left without incident, Officer Warren said. He noted that “the store was later going to work with him to get all his property back.”

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 couldn't remember exactly what he had for his bed.

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

The woman was provided information about homeless services in the area, he said, but “she didn't want any of it.”

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

The statement continued: “Ensuring there is enough safe, affordable housing remains a widespread issue across the country that our community needs to be a partner in solving. Out of respect for the privacy of the person involved, we will not share further comments.

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

Ms Temple said the organization had about 40 people coming to lunch regularly last year. “Now we're looking at 50s for lunch every day,” she said.

“The reality is that people are living in very unique places,” Ms Temple said. “Although having the Family Fair sign is a sensation, it is nothing new to us who work with the homeless community.”

“The organization sees people on a weekly basis who are living in tents in the forest, or who are living in their cars, or who are living in storage units,” he said. “So people are resorting to all kinds of things that are not safe in any way.”

Midland is about 130 miles northwest of Detroit. According to US Census Bureau estimates, the city's population in 2022 was approximately 42,500, and about 9 percent of its residents were living in poverty.

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

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