Homelessness in Detroit

Dean Simmer reports some hard statistics to swallow:

According to Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries:

  • In the Detroit area, there are at least 3,700 people in need of emergency shelter on any given night. To meet the need, there should be 1,400 more beds available.
  • There are less than 940 transitional housing beds for over 5,086 homeless men, women and children per night.
  • Over 2,000 people live on the streets each night in abandoned buildings or “double up” with family or friends.
  • Over 10,000 families in Wayne County will become homeless at least once during the next year.
  • Families now constitute 26% of the number of homeless persons per year.

Heartbreaking. Let’s figure out how we can help fix this.

I want to start a Modest Needs-like fund at Christ Church, Ann Arbor as a pilot program. A sort of replacement for the traditional discretionary fund. If it works, I want to write up a proposal for use elsewhere.

According to the minds behind Modest Needs, many people find themselves in a housing crisis over an emergency expense: medical bill, vehicle breakdown, etc.

This does not account for “cronic” homelessness, due to drug abuse or choice. It is a start, though and may address a portion of the 26%. I have some experience working amongst the homeless in Atlanta, and I think there are not very many good, long-term solutions available now. There are many misconceptions about homelessness, and a definite stigma attached to it.

A person does not become homeless in a moment, but it is often a process–a series of negative experiences. “Get a job” is not an adequate response, but neither is a handout. It is a complex issue, but we’re willing to talk about it.

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