(November 24, 2020 – Troy, MI) Community Housing Network (CHN) offers support, resources and hope for hundreds of Metro Detroit individuals facing homelessness through its PATH (Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness) outreach team. As Michigan continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, colder temperatures begin to make it harder for homeless individuals to find shelter and support.
For those living on the streets, Michigan’s business closures and health mandates mean no access to clean water, restrooms or electricity.
“After the initial shut down in the spring, our teams hit the streets to see where help was needed,” said Mellena Martinez, CHN Community Programs Manager. “People living on the streets didn’t have access to a McDonald’s or a Meijer to wash their hands or use the restroom. Some with phones could no longer find a place to charge them if they needed to reach out to us for help. Even now, there are such limited public spaces available, our team is just making sure individuals have what they need to stay clean and warm.”
With a team of four, the PATH team works throughout Oakland and Macomb Counties identifying homeless individuals in need, finding support and, hopefully, assisting them into housing.
“Each week we see about 30-40 clients that have been homeless for some time,” said Matinez. “Our goal is to help them into housing, but that’s not always as simple as it sounds. Whether it be because of legal issues, mental health issues or PTSD, there are individuals that cannot go into a shelter and it takes time to build that trust.”
Just this month, the PATH outreach team celebrated as they guided a client through the housing journey for the first time in 10 years. Through rapid rehousing grants, CHN is able to support individuals in housing with short term assistance for nine months. From there, CHN works to connect participants to support and community resources based on their identified needs.
“Once a participant is housed, our team works with them to address their goals for sustaining housing independently after assistance ends,” said Taylor Eberhart, CHN Community Programs Supervisor. “While our grants may be short term, our team makes lasting impacts.”
The PATH team often offers more than just physical support, often it is the hope that those without housing need. Former client, David Haymen, had been chronically homeless when PATH outreach workers helped get him back on his feet. He is now safely housed through one of Community Housing Network’s programs.
“When I gave up on myself, Community Housing Network’s PATH team gave me hope that I could get out of this and better my life,” said Haymen. Recently, I had open heart surgery. If I had been on the street while that was happening, I may not have survived.”
For those on the streets, the PATH team becomes a connection to resources and support. Now more than ever, the team works rain, snow or cold to ensure that clients are safe.
“We want people to know that we are out here every day,” said Martinez. “If you see someone you think might need help, call CHN and we will look for them and offer aresources. Sometimes we can start by just giving someone an emergency kit with cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer and masks. From there, we’re able to build trust and reconnect people with the community support they need to get back on their feet.”
In addition to donations to CHN to help provide emergency supplies, medications and essentials for those in need, Martinez also encourages property owners to reach out and be a part of CHN’s programming.
“We have the resources available to fund and assist with rent both short term and long term for many of our clients,” said Martinez. “For landlords and property owners, working with us is a great way to give someone a second chance at a new home.”
The PATH team works in collaboration with community partners, to locate the most vulnerable in the local community. For more information visit https://communityhousingnetwork.org/services/path/.