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April 10, 1997 - Image 24

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The Michigan Daily, 1997-04-10

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8B - The Michigan Daily Weekend Magazine - Thursday, April 10, 1997

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Daily Weekend Magazine Thursday, April 10, 1997 9B

Photostory by Aja Dekleva Cohen
After being outside all day in the freezing cold, 40-year-old Lena Stallard went back to where she lives, under the
Fuller St. bridge, and was still freezing. With no relief of warmth, she said that,"when you are cold, you are so cold; and
when you are wet, you are so wet."
Lena Stallard and her boyfriend Scott have lived together under the Fuller St. bridge in Ann Arbor for nine
months. Before that, Lena lived under the Broadway St. bridge and in various parts of Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor. She has
been homeless for two years, since her trailer was condemned and she had nowhere to go. She has 10 children who live in
Ann Arbor, Saline, and Ypsilanti; her youngest is four years old.
This past winter, Lena came close to death when she stumbled into the hospital with chronic liver disease and was
given only two hours to live. Her two hours turned into a 39-day stay in the hospital, and left her with more than
$100,000 in hospital bills. Lena gets frustrated because "people say to get a job, but I always have to go to the hospital."
She goes to the hospital once a month and takes seven different medicines daily.
Living under a bridge is not the safest place to reside, especially during the winter."The cops are real good to us.
They come down just to make sure we are alive when it is really cold;' Lena and Scott said. Besides the weather burden,
"kids come here and smash and ruin everything. They do it just to be vindictive;' Scott said.
Every morning, the homeless couple wakes up at around 7 a.m. and walks three miles to panhandle and go canning.
Lena does spend some part of her morning reading books in the library. When the day is over, the two get free meals at
different churches in Ann Arbor, and at dark they head home. Once they are home, they talk and then go to sleep.
The idea of living in a homeless shelter does not appeal to either Lena or Scott. "They are crowded, nasty, and dirty.
There are lots of fights and too many people, plus there are rules - a curfew for one;' Scott remarked. Lena also said,"you
are only allowed to stay in a homeless shelter for 60 days a year. So if you go in in November and get out in February
you can't go back until next February and have to be out during the coldest part of the year."This is why Lena and Scott
start collecting their blankets in August and plan for the cold winter ahead of them.

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