Two Detroit Police officers have rallied community support for two men who have set up an illegal camp on a vacant lot in the Warrendale community.
"You can't park on the grass, you can't store campers here and you certainly can't camp in a residential area," said officer Carrie Livingston.
William Billings and Jason Ensinger were doing all three of those things. Complaints from neighborhood residents prompted officer Livingston, and her partner, Kirk Williams, to pay the two men a visit.
"They just sat and talked with me and I told them everything that's happening," said Billings.
The officers took him downtown and helped him obtain a copy of his birth certificate, which he lost earlier in a fire. Soon he will also have proper identification.
"Writing him ordinances wouldn't help his situation any and, if I take away their campers, they have nothing over their heads," Livingston said.
Billings, 55, is a veteran, but he told 7 Action News he did not serve long enough to earn VA benefits. He's living in the trailer on the property.
Ensinger is on disability. He traveled to Detroit from Washington State and calls his van home.
"We want to make sure that they stay in the area because they have friends here and connections here," said Barb Matney, president of the Warrendale community association. "I think that's a real positive for them. I think displacing them is not a good option."
Matney has been in contact with the Detroit Land Bank and also plans to work with the officers to seek other possible housing options for the men.
"I'm really proud that these officers took the initiative to problem solve on their own and that's what we ask of all of our officers," said Sixth Precinct Commander Aric Tosqui.
Billings is grateful for their help.
"A lot of people say a lot of bad things about the Detroit police," he said. "I can't say nothing bad about them."