Homelessness is on the rise in Marquette. Room at the Inn, a non-denominational charity program for the homeless, says they have added nearly a dozen more beds to keep up with demand.
Debbie Emrich had her own apartment and a steady job. What many would call a normal life, but after a series of health problems, she's lost it all.
Now she is living in her van on disability.
"OK, back here...this briefcase has all my personal papers and stuff. Here's my toiletries when I go shower," said Debbie Emrich.
She has been homeless for the last three months, struggling to pay off $13,000 in medical bills.
As uncomfortable as it has been for her, Debbie's now hoping others will help.
"It was very humiliating at first, but I guess like they say, you get use to anything. You do what you got to do," Emrich explained.
So she went to Room at the Inn for help. She stayed with them for two months but left after feeling uncomfortable around some of the other homeless. Even though she's not staying at Room at the Inn, she's still getting help from their advocates.
"Whatever their needs may be, if we could make the right connections to the right agencies or pursue it ourselves, that is what we do," said Doug Russell, Executive Director, Room at the Inn.
Right now Debbie is living on $720 a month, most of which is spent on keeping her car and paying medical bills.
"So many homeless people have a bad reputation, and there are bad ones out there. I've seen them. But there is a lot of them that have circumstances just like me. I worked my whole life," Emrich added.
She hopes others will learn from her story and prepare for the unexpected.
For now, she waits to hear back from a possible apartment and job. If it doesn't work out, she will continue living out of her van.
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