LANSING, Mich. — A restraining order blocking a Lansing hotel from evicting dozens of homeless people will remain in place as a judge hears the case.

A hearing started Tuesday in Ingham County Circuit Court and will resume at a later date, the Lansing State Journal reported (http://on.lsj.com/2cTGZPU ).

Mayor Virg Bernero declared a housing emergency after Magnuson Hotel management informed people living there that it would close this month for renovations. The Homeless Angels nonprofit rents rooms at the Magnuson for the homeless.

The city earlier asked the court for an injunction prohibiting the eviction of 91 people. City officials have been working on a plan to find housing for those being displaced.

The court hearing delay will give officials more time, said Joan Jackson Johnson, Lansing’s human relations and community services director.

“Two to three weeks,” she said. “We’ll put the pedal to the metal.”

The Magnuson has “helped a lot of people,” Homeless Angels founder Mike Karl testified Tuesday in court.

Magnuson regional manager Yingtao Xiao has said hotel owner Alvin Peh may never allow Homeless Angels clients back to the property.

Keeping the hotel open has become a financial burden, Peh’s attorney, Joanne Gurly, told Judge James Jamo.

A broken water meter has contributed to more than $51,000 in unpaid water and sewer charges, Gurly said.

“The city has been aware of the homeless population in Lansing,” Gurly told Jamo. “My client didn’t create this problem. He has tried to assist the city, but now it’s time for the city of Lansing to take its head out of the sand and assist these people.”

Alternative housing should be available within the next week for nearly 20 people, Johnson said. But it could take three to four months to house all of the homeless currently at the hotel.


Information from: Lansing State Journal, http://www.lansingstatejournal.com