Tag Archives: affordable housing

Helping the Homeless

by Dr. Chad Audi

If you were to win money in the lottery, would you give it away to a homeless person? Tough question, right? Well, a woman in Massachusetts did just that. The single mother of three gave her $200 in lottery winnings to a man on the street whose plight touched her heart.

The homeless man was desperately trying to keep warm in the 8-below zero temperatures, and the woman used her lottery money to put him up at a motel for three nights. “I knew why God had blessed me with the winnings,” she said.

And the woman didn’t stop there. She created a GoFundMe page for the man, and raised more than $5,000 to help the man get back on his feet.

While this is a remarkable story of selfless giving, we know that the homeless need more than money. They need direction, restorative services, job training, affordable housing, and help integrating back into society. These are the types of services that non-profit agencies like ours, Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), provide for thousands of homeless and low-income individuals and families.

We hope that the money raised for the Massachusetts man will be responsibly managed and that he will be directed to an appropriate agency that will guide him through the steps of putting his life back together.

Sure, giving makes us feel good. We are equipped with the human instinct to try to help the homeless and disadvantaged. But at the same time, we need to make sure that the help we provide is long term and effective.

Dr. Chad Audi

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Happy Endings

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

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Bringing Awareness to Hunger & Homelessness

by Dr. Chad Audi

From now until the end of the year, a lot of attention will be placed on America’s homeless population. The nation is wrapping up a five-year plan to end veteran homelessness. Plus, the week before Thanksgiving is known as National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week.

That week, November 14-22, is a time to shed light on the issues of hunger and homelessness. It comes at a time of the year when most Americans are thinking about the things for which they are thankful. Undoubtedly, among the top things to be thankful for is having food on the table and a roof over your head. Just think, on any given night there are more than 578,000 people in this country who don’t have these basic necessities of life.

Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) understands that we all are only one or two paychecks away from being homeless or hungry. Many poor people are at a high risk of becoming homeless, because they can’t afford housing.

As the temperatures start to fall, DRMM is preparing for the usual increase in the number of homeless coming to our doors for shelter from the cold. Most are scared, hungry, and short on hope. We give them food, a hot shower, clothing, and a reason to hope.

So, what can YOU do during National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week? Organize a drive to collect money, food, toiletries, blankets, hats and socks for your local homeless shelters. Hold a prayer vigil that calls attention to the plight of the homeless. Volunteer your time at an agency that helps the homeless — and bring your friends and family members. Or, exercise your political power and write to your legislators to advocate for policy solutions to poverty and homelessness.

by Dr. Chad Audi

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Veterans Stand Down

by Dr. Chad Audi

As we approach the national day of recognition for our military veterans, Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) is proud to have served our homeless veterans during a recent event in Detroit. The two-day event is sponsored by the Southeastern Michigan Veterans Stand Down, and it gives the veterans an opportunity to get off the streets and get services, respite and hope.

Service providers like DRMM provide the veterans with housing, medical, employment, legal, and job training information. In addition, the homeless veterans receive a hot lunch, a bag lunch to go, and haircuts.

In military jargon, a “stand down” refers to moving exhausted soldiers from the battlefield to a secure place where they can rest and recover. In that same manner, this event is also called a Stand Down, where homeless veterans can get away from the stresses of life on the street and receive some rest and relaxation in camaraderie with each other.

You have read about my concerns over the treatment of our military veterans many times in this blog. They put their lives on the line for our freedom, and they certainly deserve better opportunities when they return to civilian life. Veterans need jobs, housing, medical care, substance abuse treatment, career training, and much more.

The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans just wrapped up its summit in Washington, D.C., to address the housing needs of veterans, as we count down to the final months of the five-year plan to get rid of veteran homelessness.

Here at DRMM, we offer transitional housing for homeless veterans and help them work through substance abuse, mental health, and debt issues. We also partner with the Detroit Training Center to provide free job training. Afterwards, we assist them in finding jobs. Steady employment is the only way they can get on the path to financial independence.

We provide what we can at DRMM to help restore dignity and self-respect to our veterans. They are heroes who absolutely deserve it.

Dr. Chad Audi

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Lending a Helping Hand

by Dr. Chad Audi

Don’t you feel good when you are able to brighten someone’s day? Whether it’s helping with chores or providing transportation or paying another person’s bills, it makes the recipients —and you —feel so much better.

We, here at the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) and Working Homes/Working Families charity, are feeling great about being able to bring some joy to a young Detroit mother.

Simone Hearn is 24-years-old and fighting Stage 3 cancer. She is a working mother of three small children. At one point, her family was homeless. When a local television station told Simone’s story, viewers stepped up to offer assistance.

DRMM and Working Homes/Working Families saw her story and presented her with a renovated, furnished home in Detroit. That’s what we do — restore houses and place working families in need into the homes. They are only responsible for paying taxes and utilities and maintaining the home for two years; then they become the owners. There is no mortgage or rent.

We do this because we know it’s possible to have a job, but still not be able to make ends meet. Many of the people who come to DRMM for meals are in that situation. They work, but their meager paychecks do not stretch far enough to cover rent, utilities, food and other necessities of life.

Working Homes/Working Families saw the need — and the abundance of empty and abandoned homes in the city — and together with our committed volunteers, we transform the houses into a safe, clean living environment. Often, the houses are donated by owners who would rather see them used for a good cause than sitting empty.

Recently, we embarked on a large project to rebuild six houses in one east side neighborhood. Employees from Cooper Standard Foundation and DOW Elastomers volunteered with the renovation. The non-profit, Humble Design, provided furnishings and design services. So much joy is possible when we work together!

Meanwhile, Simone Hearn still has a lot to overcome, but it’s a little easier now that she and her children have a roof over their heads. That’s one less thing she has to worry about.

See Simone’s story at: http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/story/29325512/homeless-detroit-mom-of-three-fighting-cancer-gets-free-home#

Dr. Chad Audi

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Chronic Homelessness

by Dr. Chad Audi

For some individuals, homelessness is a temporary situation. But for others, it is much more persistent. These are the chronically homeless. They have a diagnosed disability and have been homeless for at least one continuous year or experienced at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness reports there are 84,291 chronically homeless individuals in the United States, based on last year’s point-in-time counts.

Chronic homelessness presents a challenge for many cities and social services agencies that are working to reduce the number of people living on the streets and lower the public costs associated with the homeless, which result from the use of emergency medical services and frequent jail time.

Here in Detroit, city officials are currently working on a plan to address chronic homelessness. The issue presented itself over the winter when about a dozen homeless people camped in tents in a park for several months. They refused to go to shelters in the area. The city later moved them to a hotel and apartments.

Now, the director of the city’s Housing and Revitalization Department is pulling together a group of local social services agencies to analyze metrics, set goals and make recommendations to the Mayor to keep this from happening again.

Many believe the most cost-effective solution to chronic homelessness is permanent supportive housing. That’s a combination of affordable housing and supportive services that will help the individual become a stable resident with improved health and social skills.

As head of Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), I know that it will take even more to break the cycle of chronic homelessness. We must address the individual’s medical, behavioral and substance abuse issues; provide educational opportunities; teach him or her marketable job skills; and offer continued aftercare.

Only with this “complete support package” can we begin to permanently rid this country of chronic homelessness.

Dr. Chad Audi

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Can We End Veteran Homelessness This Year?

by Dr. Chad Audi

In 2010, President Barack Obama set a very ambitious goal — to eliminate homelessness among military veterans by the end of 2015. Well, 2015 is here. With roughly nine months remaining in the year, a lot of questions still remain.

Can it be done? Just what does it mean to eliminate veteran homelessness? And what will it take to get it done?

The two main challenges for U.S. veterans are finding jobs and affordable housing. Without these two basic necessities of life, veterans can easily fall into homelessness.

Often, it’s hard for veterans to land employment, because they don’t have the necessary skills for certain jobs. Granted, they fought for our country’s freedom. That in itself calls for plenty of life skills and the utmost bravery. However, our veterans can’t always articulate those attributes when job hunting. And, of course, when you’re unemployed, it’s less likely that you can maintain a permanent housing situation.

Last summer, First Lady Michelle Obama issued another call to action by announcing a national Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. The City of New Orleans proudly announced early this year that it was the first major city in the country to meet the challenge to end veteran homelessness. City officials there developed a system to quickly find permanent housing for homeless veterans.

Here at the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), we help homeless veterans get back on their feet by providing the resources they need: temporary and permanent housing, nutritious meals, counseling, job training, educational opportunities, medical care, transportation, and assistance searching for jobs. We depend upon donors, volunteers, corporations, federal and local government, and other charitable organizations to help DRMM pull together all of the pieces for our veterans.

Can we really end homelessness among veterans in communities across the United States by the end of this year?

One thing’s for sure. It’s going to take partnerships and commitment to make the goal a reality. Get involved today in local efforts in your community to end veteran homelessness.

Dr. Chad Audi

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