by Dr. Chad Audi
It’s that time of year again. Time to get a count of the nation’s homeless. The 2016 Point-in- Time Count just took place across the country. Tens of thousands of volunteers went out one night in January looking for the men, women and children who call the streets their home.
In addition to keeping a count, the volunteers attempt to get the homeless to seek shelter and assistance. But, if they refuse and insist on their freedom, the volunteers provide them with life-saving items such as blankets, sleeping bags, hats, gloves, socks, food, and hygiene kits.
The homeless who do accept the offer are taken to shelters like ours, the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM). They can warm up, get a hot meal and shower, clean clothes and a bed to sleep in overnight. However, some of the homeless return to the streets the next morning with no interest in finding transitional and permanent housing or treating their mental health and substance abuse issues. For some, a fear of authority and obeying rules sends them back to their outdoor home.
In addition to searching the streets, the Point-in-Time Count volunteers look for the homeless in shelters and vehicles parked in 24-hour store parking lots. Any place where the homeless may go to hide from the cold and authorities.
The purpose of this one day count is to get a better picture of the extent of homelessness in this country. The data is collected and used for the allocation of federal grants to help provide housing and case management services for the homeless.
Everyone deserves a safe and stable place to call home, and that’s why we at DRMM work so diligently to provide the homeless with the tools they need to permanently escape life on the streets and become productive citizens sharing in the American Dream.
Dr. Chad Audi
by Dr. Chad Audi
We’re in the business of “happy endings” here at the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM). Whether it’s helping a homeless individual get back on his feet or giving a drug addict the tools to kick her habit and re-claim her children, we believe in fairy tale endings.
Recently, I stepped in to keep a former Motown Records musician and his wife from becoming homeless. For the past year, ex-saxophonist 83-year-old Kenny Brinkley and his wife Sandi had been in danger of losing their home. Rather than see this elderly couple put out on the street, DRMM presented them with the keys to a new house in Detroit. You can read more about the Brinkley’s story here.
Just the thought of this elderly couple becoming homeless was incomprehensible to me. Just as disturbing is a report by the National Alliance to End Homelessness that predicts a 33-percent increase in the number of homeless elderly Americans in the 10-year period between 2010 and 2020. The major reason for the rise is because the Baby Boomer generation is starting to turn 65.
The increase in the number of homeless senior citizens means there will be an urgent need for senior housing, health care and other services. And, for providers of homeless services like DRMM, that means we will need to be prepared to serve more people and cater to the unique needs of the elderly.
As we approach 2020, it is going to be extremely important for local, state and national officials to find ways to meet the growing needs of our senior citizens, especially through affordable public housing and senior housing programs.
But for now, I’m pleased that we could make a difference in the lives of a pair of Detroit senior citizens. The Brinkleys can now enjoy their golden years and a happy ending.
Dr. Chad Audi