Mich. boy homeless after city shuts down hot dog stand

Nathan Duszynski, 13, set up a hot dong stand to help his disabled parents pay bills. Mckinac Center for Public Policy

(CBS News) An entrepreneurial-minded Michigan boy and his parents are homeless after the city shut down the boy's hot dog stand for not having a proper permit.

Nathan Duszynski, 13, was hoping to help his disabled parents get through tough times with a food cart business in July. But he told the Mackinac Center for Public Policy that city official from Holland, Michigan shut it down after 10 minutes.

"Nate and I are now in a shelter," Duszynki's mother, Lynnette, told the Michigan nonprofit. "Doug can't stay with us because he takes prescription narcotics to deal with his pain and the shelter does not allow him with those kinds of drugs."

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Lynnette and her husband Doug Johnson, Nathan's step-father, receive about $1,300 a month in disability payments, Medicaid and food assistance. Lynette suffers from epilepsy and Johnson has multiple sclerosis.

Johnson lost his job working as a paralegal at the Michigan Rehabilitative Services in Grand Rapids when his office shut down earlier this summer, MLive reported. Their conditions make it difficult for them to find permanent work. Johnson is reportedly staying at a friend's barn.

Nathan said he went out to help his family by purchasing a hot dog cart with money he saved. He worked out an arrangement with a local sporting goods store, Reliable Sport, to sell hot dogs in a parking lot. The owner also offered Nathan a sales commission if he encouraged customers to rent the store's motorized bicycles.

Lynette said she spoke to an official in City Hall to make sure it was okay to set up a hot dog cart in the parking lot and they were told they did not need a permit.

But it didn't work out. Situated just across City Hall, a zoning official spotted Nathan and asked him to shut down immediately.

The hot dog stand was within the city's downtown commercial zone, where food carts not connected to restaurants are banned. City of Holland Assistant Manager Greg Robinson said the rule was set up to protect restaurants in the area -- it would be unfair for carts, who don't have to pay for property, to compete with restaurants who do.

"This is a great opportunity for him, and it would be great to work with him and we can in many commercial areas of the city. This just happens to be one where he can't," Robinson said in a video posted by the Mackinac Center last week.

The cart was sold to a local businessman, who is letting Nathan keep it for free. The boy has been booking private events in West Michigan, but each event requires a new health department permit. It's difficult for Nathan to make a profit with all the costs.

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