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New funds to end chronic homelessness

an0nym0n0us via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Some help is on the way for Michigan’s homeless, as areas of Lansing, Detroit and Berrien County receive funding to fight chronic homelessness. 

The federal government is giving Michigan $4.5 million to help treat the underlying factors of homelessness, like mental health and substance abuse.

Bob Wheaton is the spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the agency that received the grant. He says the grant is meant to do more than just find homes for people.

“One of the key missions of our department is to remove barriers to success,” he said. “So, in this instance we’re helping people find and maintain housing by removing barriers that would prevent them from having a home.”

According to Wheaton, similar initiatives in the past have resulted in 77 percent of active participants keeping their housing for six months. MDHHS will subcontract with several agencies throughout Detroit, Lansing and Berrien County throughout the three years.

The agencies include Berrien County’s Emergency Shelter Services, Mid-Michigan Recovery Services, Neighborhood Service Organization, and Southwest Counseling Solutions.

Jamie Ebaugh is with Southwest Counseling Solutions in Detroit, one of the organizations receiving money from the grant. He says services that target the root cause of a person’s homelessness are essential for keeping them off the street.

“You know we just don’t want to see somebody die on the street that we can move into housing and start to wrap supports around,” he said.

The long-term goal of the grant and the programs participating is ending homelessness in Michigan, Ebaugh says.

“I’m hoping to, for us, be able to house as many people as we can, as quickly as we can. Linking them in the process to ongoing services in the community that will keep them stable,” he said.

Ebaugh says they hope to take what they learn during the three years with this grant, and apply it to other areas across Michigan.

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