Friday, July 10, 2020

Life on the street

February 7, 2011
Lansing resident Richard Aikin walks past downtown businesses as the temperature reads 23 degrees Fahrenheit on Friday in Lansing. To stay warm Aikin usually goes to a nearby church or coffee shop. "I take my life one day at a time," he said. "I just take off walking. If the church is open I'll make a quick stop there to get warm." Kat Petersen/The State News
Lansing resident Richard Aikin walks past downtown businesses as the temperature reads 23 degrees Fahrenheit on Friday in Lansing. To stay warm Aikin usually goes to a nearby church or coffee shop. "I take my life one day at a time," he said. "I just take off walking. If the church is open I'll make a quick stop there to get warm." Kat Petersen/The State News —
Photo by Kat Petersen | and Kat Petersen The State News

Lansing resident Richard Aikin has been homeless for three years, walking the streets of Lansing during the day and sleeping at an overnight homeless shelter for men, the City Rescue Mission, 607 E. Michigan Ave., in Lansing. 

“I don’t like being homeless,” Aikin said. “But unfortunately, beggars can’t be choosers.”

The deaths of Aikin’s parents happened five years apart. After his father died, he had no family left in Texas, so he moved to Michigan to be close to his twin brother.

Once in Lansing, a chain of events led to Aikin being jobless and homeless. He first heard about Volunteers of America, 430 N. Larch St., in Lansing, and stayed at that shelter until finding the City Rescue Mission, where he has been for more than two years. 

Aikin’s possessions fit in a backpack and three or four bags, and he carries them with him everywhere he goes.

“They’re my security blankets,” he said of the bags, which hold clean clothes, Bibles and his hat collection.

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