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Shelter [The Bright Side 14]


Welcome to The Bright Side, the show that
sheds light on people, places and stories that make Michigan great. I’m Anne Grantner,
Executive Director at Shelter of Flint, and this is where we’re filming today’s episode. In today’s episode we will visit places around
the state that are designed to help people in tough economic situations avoid homelessness. In Michigan, it can be hard for some people
to find a home, especially if they’re working a low wage job or experience an unexpected
life change. Our first video today tells the stories of families and individuals in our
state searching for a place to live. There’s a lot of help out there, you know,
to help you find stuff. But finding it, it isn’t there. It’s been very difficult to find a place to
live. I’ve been living out of my car from time to time. I was lucky to get some place
to stay. It just happened that a landlord worked something out with me. People need
affordable, sustainable and permanent housing. It is a pathway to jobs for employment, but
if you don’t have the affordable, accessible housing, you can’t do that. And there’s waiting
lists for subsidized housing that people have been waiting for years to get on, and when
it opens you watch the lines just build. We have a waiting list that won’t stop. We
closed down our waiting list for four bedroom apartments because it’s three years you have
to wait to get in. I waited about three years. I moved in a year
ago in July. I want to say almost two years I’ve been…
it’s a process of finding the agencies to help me and now I’m at the top of the list
and a one bedroom ground floor apartment is available. In the future I see myself being a hard working
man in this society. Something I never did before, so. It’s truly a win-win situation across the
board: is to get people with disabilities and/or low incomes into the community versus
group homes, nursing homes. I’m in a nursing home. I hate it. I tried
looking for homes. Okay, well, it’s impossible to buy a house when you’re on a fixed income.
And then you know there’s upkeep and stuff, and I’ve got friends and family that said
they’d be willing to help. But then again it’s like okay, well, you’re relying on somebody
else. So I looked into a couple modular homes. Can’t get financed for them. Then I looked
in to apartments. Well, apartments are booked out a year. Two years. I found one the other
day that had an opening and it’s like, “Yeah, September 7th it’ll be open.” And I’m like, “Oh, okay, what’s your monthly
payment?” “Oh, 640.” And I might not even make 700, I don’t even
think it’s quite 700, a month. It’s almost heartbreaking how many people
come in here and especially before the holidays in bad weather…. homeless. Some even maybe
with kids. Just nowhere to go. I wasn’t always homeless. But I went to the
doctor one day. I couldn’t walk at work for some reason. I had a heart problem and type
II diabetes and… I got behind on my rent and my wife was working as much as she could.
And then we lived for the better half of a month and a half in a motel, a run-down motel.
Now I have my own home. I’m a resident of Palmer Pointe Townhomes. It still seems like
a dream for me and my family, my wife, my two sons. We already feel it. It’s amazing waking up
to them every day. I would have to work, get up early, so I never got to see them. But
now it’s… I feel like we’re really a family. What affordable housing there is… I guess
it’s somewhat straightforward of there’s a massive lack of it. We’ve got to find a way to create more housing
for folks. We actually never executed our full marketing plan and we had over… over
400 inquiries to live here. Every day I wake up and I be like, “Thank
you.” Mmhmm.
Right Saniia? Say, ‘Yeah!'” Ah!
Yeah, we can’t believe we made it in here. We’re not doing charity. We’re investing in
the people who live here. Thank you for giving me and my family a place
to call home. Next we will find out how Shelter of Flint
is helping people in our community get back on their feet. I was a project manager in construction, and
that’s the first thing that gets hit when the economy tanks, and — you know, lost my
job. Went through my savings. I was injured. Couldn’t find any work and we just found ourselves
in a situation where we had no income, no house, nothing. Getting up, going out and buying a coffee
or buying diapers for your kids, things that you never think you’d be in a position where
you can’t do that, and we were. We were connected with the Shelter of Flint
and they took us on and helped us out. We have programming around the whole concept
of fostering independence because giving somebody just a hot and a cot is not really doing them
any good in the long term. We have to help our people be able to stand on their feet
and walk out into the community. So the transition from being in the situation
that we were in to — within just a matter of a few weeks we were in an apartment and
we had heat, we had electricity, we had bathroom again. We had running water. We had food.
We had to get on state assistance, which doesn’t make us proud, but. But they’ll help you every step of the way,
I mean, Shelter of Flint’s right there. And we’re there for their support all the
way along the line with an end goal of being… can we help you increase this income? Can
we help graduate you up and out of our program? So that you can go on to complete independence
so you don’t have anybody visiting your house and all of that, just like this family you
spoke with today. It’s all about maintaining integrity and dignity.
For example, Rosewood Park apartments we built has 120 units. 30 of those units are set aside
for permanent supportive housing clients from Shelter of Flint. This is our permanent supportive housing office.
We have a few of our workers who are here on site and then we have the rest of our workers
who actually work on site at our properties. These are our bedrooms. There’s twelve of
them. They’re pretty standard. So most of our transitional housing clients, if they
don’t have a job when they come in, they usually have a job by the time they leave, if not
one or two or three jobs. That’s really good. Employment is a big piece for them to be able
to get back on their feet and be independent. Because they’ve got to have money in their
pocket, just like everybody else. And really, this is a home. It’s not a facility.
It’s not an institution. It’s a home. The Child Welfare Society gave us this building,
and that is who owned and ran the Cedar Street Children Center, which used to be an orphanage
for foster kids and parentless children. These were their little cubbies where they put their
stuff. Makes me kind of sad, but hopeful at the same time. This is why it’s so important
to me personally to have this building is to honor their legacy and to make a difference
for children who are staying here. 60% of our clientele are children under the
age of 10, so I feel very committed to trying to make this a safe haven and a place of hope
for our kids. So currently we’re in a house. We’re renting
a house. It’s a single family home. It’s in Grand Blanc. It’s got a yard for our kids
to play in. Alyssa’s in school. She qualified for the
GSRP program and the bus comes and gets her. She goes four days a week. And I love my school so much and my house. And that’s… that’s what Shelter of Flint
has done for us. It’s allowed us to dream again. Bye! Bye! Some emergency shelters specialize in groups
of people who are at risk. Our next video takes us to southeast Michigan and the grand
opening of a new shelter for women and children escaping domestic violence. In the wake of the storm
I was shaken I was reborn I got another shot to make it to the top today The open house of the new shelter, which is
so exciting. 800 women and children were turned away last year because they didn’t have capacity,
so it’s going to be so exciting. Unfortunately it’s the reality that domestic abuse exists
right now, so having additional capacity will be great. I came all the way from Naples to be here
today for this. That’s how big of a deal it is to some of us and certainly I think it’s
a big deal to the community. There’s only four domestic violence shelters
in all of Metro Detroit. Our shelter shelters about 400 women and children every year, and
then we also offer nonresidential services. So you don’t have to come in to shelter to
get services. Actually, really, when you think about it, no one should have to come to a
shelter to find basic safety. You know, because domestic violence is one
of those topics that people just… it’s kind of like taboo. You’re not discussing it unless
maybe you find another survivor or another person that might be in the same boat as you.
But bringing people together and really just trying to empower survivors, I think that’s
one of the most important things we can do as a community and as the shelter and staff
here. And I think they do a great job at doing that. You know there’s a lot of things I want to
say about Turning Point, but it’s also about the issue of domestic violence, and that is
that a lot of people think that it’s a… a monetary issue. They think it’s somebody
snapped, something of that regard. It really isn’t about any of that. It’s really about
control and somebody trying to control somebody else’s lives and using violence as a mean
to exert that control. A lot of times family and friends don’t understand.
I always say I felt like I got one of two responses. Either people were mad at me for
leaving, or they were mad at me for staying just depending on kind of their own perspective. Turning Point is a place where people know
and understand what you’re going through. They’re not going to push you in any direction,
they’re just giving you the resources to empower yourself to make choices that are very difficult. The value to the community? Immeasurable.
Ask anybody who’s gained control over their lives by coming to Turning Point, by moving
on. How do you put a value on that? You really can’t. And I have witnessed many families and situations
that seemed insurmountable and horrific actually do okay and survive and thrive. I lost my mother to domestic violence and
this my way of giving back and honoring my mother and just making sure that I spread
a message that domestic violence is just unacceptable. And I love that Turning Point is here and
they really do a great job of sending that message. Turning Point is just one of many wonderful
organizations throughout the country that are helping give people the ability to move
on with their lives and educate the community as to what needs to be done to hopefully end
this cycle. We really do hope and believe that domestic
violence and sexual assault can be ended. This is everything. Sometimes the challenge isn’t finding a temporary
place to live, but staying in a current home or finding a new type of housing. Elder Law
of Michigan is a nonprofit that helps older adults in many ways, including housing counseling
and finding healthy food on a tight budget. Our slogan is one call for help for seniors.
We can help them with their legal, financial, economic security and food needs. We’ll talk
to anybody across the state of Michigan. We serve people even as far away as the upper
peninsula. Mostly we serve people over 60 or 50 and with
a disability, but our housing counseling program serves people of all ages. There’s no age
restrictions on our housing counseling. It’s the only program of Elder Law with no age
restrictions. For our foreclosure grants we’re focusing
on the seven county area right here in Mid-Michigan. They can call us for help. We would do an
interview over they phone and they could come in to our office if it was convenient for
them, but we could do everything over the phone. And what they really need to do is
catch it early after — even before they miss the first missed mortgage payment that’s great
— but once they start missing mortgage payments they really need to take control of it quickly
and reach out for help. An example of some housing counseling we did
on the rental side, because we also do counseling for tenants, but this person in particular
was in rental housing and then there was an issue with her Medicaid. So she stopped getting
Medicaid and it screwed up the assistance she was getting for her housing, and so she
was going to be evicted. So she called us and we gave her some advice
and fixed the Medicaid issue, which allowed her to stay in her apartment so she wasn’t
evicted and she’s still there. It’s a hard time for vulnerable seniors. People
over 60 tend to be living on a fixed income, especially the people we serve that are low
income, so they’re not going to be returning to work. They have a limited amount of assets
they’ve set aside to live on for the rest of their life. If we can do some outreach about Elder Law
of Michigan and they know to make that one call for help, we can connect them with the
program that meets their needs. If it’s food, it’s the MiCAFE program. Only about 38% of seniors eligible for food
assistance actually apply. So there’s this huge gap of low income seniors that could
be using these benefits but are not. So typically that means they’re making decisions like buying
medicine or putting food on the table. You hear a lot of different things that people
have to do. What hard decisions do they have to make? Do I pay this bill, do I put food
on the table? So we’re here to address barriers to them
applying for the State of Michigan Food Assistance Program to make sure they can put food on
their table and make ends meet. If you’re thinking about finding a new place
to live or struggling to afford your current home, the following short videos from Lansing’s
Center for Financial Health will give you some tips. Most homeowners fail to realize that if they
get behind in their property taxes, they could very well lose their home to property tax
foreclosure. To collect delinquent property taxes, the State of Michigan has a judicial
foreclosure process. And what this means is that when you’re 25 months delinquent, a judicial
court judge will sign your property into foreclosure and that property will then transfer to the
foreclosing government unit, which for local homeowners would be the Ingham County Treasurer. It is the responsibility of every homeowner
in the state of Michigan to pay property taxes. The best practice to pay these taxes is to
pay them on time to avoid penalties and interest. A practical way to do this is to escrow, either
through your mortgage payment or set up a separate savings account so the money is available
when the property taxes are due. Another option is to contact your Treasurer’s
office and ask about a repayment plan. Lastly, if the homeowner has experienced a
viable hardship and has recovered from that hardship, there are funds available through
Step Forward Michigan. A housing counselor will help you prepare and submit your application
package. The Center for Financial Health is a full
service homeownership center starting with renters, moving on to homebuyers, homeowners
and even programs that are available for seniors within our community. The Center for Financial Health is a nonprofit
organization. The counselors that we choose to have join our team come to us with experience
either in the real estate industry or the financial market industry. As a renter looking at homeownership, the
Center for Financial Health can help you establish your housing affordability. They can help
you reduce your debt, improve your credit score, increase your savings plan and have
a better understanding of all the options available to you when it comes to your overall
housing needs. If you’re a renter facing tax foreclosure
through no fault of your own through the actions of your landlord, contacting the Center for
Financial Health can help you understand the resources available to you, help you prepare
for financial transition into another rental or into homeownership if feasible. There’s a lot of programs that are available
out there and that’s kind of what our agency brings to the table is to let you know, as
the homebuyer, potential homebuyer, what’s available to you and what program fits you
best. And based on your income and household side, which programs you would actually fit
in to. If a homeowner is struggling in making their
payments, the first thing we ask that homeowner to do is call the lender to find out what
options may available for them. We then ask that homeowner to contact a housing counseling
agency so that they can be made aware of the options available to them. Our housing counselors provide unbiased information,
advice and choices about affordable housing products and finance products that are available
here in our local marketplace. Additionally, we provide clients with other types of referrals
that may meet their financing or housing needs. One of the services we offer for seniors is
a reverse mortgage, or a home equity conversion mortgage. A home equity conversion mortgage
allows that senior to utilize the equity in their home to stay at home. Those funds can
be use for whatever purpose they choose. The requirements are: you have to be 62 years
or older, be entitled to the property, it has to be your primary residence and all liens
on the property must be paid in full. Counseling is required. One of the most important things
for homeowners 62 years or older to understand is they must be counseled. That is a requirement
by HUD. Counseling allows that homeowner to be able
to get information about the ins and the outs, the pros and the cons of a reverse mortgage.
Will it fit their needs? Will it not fit their needs? Is there another option that’s available
to them where they don’t have to go in to their home and take monies out. These funds
don’t have to be repaid, but should something happen to that homeowner such as passes away,
the heirs are responsible either for selling the property. If they want to keep it in the
family they’re responsible for paying that reverse mortgage in full. We want children to be successful so they
don’t have to face the same housing challenges we have today. In the following video we will
hear the story of the new network center that will help at-risk kids prepare for employment
and college. This is the only place we have for people
to meet, and it’s just overcrowded and we need more office space. So we’re going to
build this building. They’re starting on it right now. [at ribbon cutting ceremony] So last year
I negotiated for the possibility of building this building. And HUD finally said — after
much badgering — if you can get the architect’s drawings to 50% complete and find a contractor
who will agree to build this building for the estimated cost made six years ago… we
will think about it. Well there are 391 residents who live here.
179 of them are children. 229 of them are adults. All of the people who live here are
either low income or very low income, so that the kids that we have in the village are at
risk. And we try to help them as much as possible through an after school program and tutoring
and then we have a scholar’s program which we take the top… well, top in terms of teachers
who think they have great potential. Not the people who make the best grades necessarily.
In the fifth grade and enter them in a program from the sixth grade through high school that
prepares them for college. So we’re talking about working with 45 young
people. We’ve got to have space to do that. That’s partly what the building is for, but
it’s also for all the residents. Residents of the village, we believe they
have a great potential that needs to be fully realized. Both the kids, the seniors, and
the other folks in between. Our last video today takes us to Ann Arbor,
where we see that having a home can really change somebody’s life. For a long time I feel like my life was nothing
but turmoil and it was on a road to pretty much self-destruction and probably death. Welcome to Avalon Housing. And since I’ve been here, it’s been a lot
better. I get to see my kids regularly. I get to see my doctor regularly. I can take
a shower regularly. I can eat. All the resources that I needed are here. I mean, things got
better and I’ve got a second job now and little by little I’ll get better. At Avalon we open doors for people who are
homeless so they can have a stable home and the support they need to keep it. I was involved in narcotics and was a heroin
addict. Served for one and half years. Two years incarceration. Two years on tether.
Two years on parole. The day I lost my job, the person at Avalon offered me this place.
They said Howard, she called me up and said meet me at 201 West Williams. I feel comfortable here. I feel secure. I was making a good salary for the post office
for fourteen years, and when that job was no longer there I was sleeping in various
different missions and shelters. It was horrible. In fact, I had contemplated suicide at the
time. After six months of living in the Y, then
they offered me a residency here. These are people who have had so many doors
closed to them and our goal is to open that door without setting any conditions upon them
to access what is essentially a basic human right, which is housing. We serve about 400 tenants living in 260 apartments
scattered at 20 different sites throughout Ann Arbor. We’re really interested in being
integrated into neighborhoods around town and not stigmatizing folks and identifying
that they live in low income housing. Supportive housing is really the combination
of truly affordable rental housing and the availability of support services to help them
address the behaviors that led to their becoming homeless in the first place. They help so many people. They help them stay
sober. They give them an environment that they can make their own home. We provide a wide range of services to our
tenants: mental health support, substance abuse support, gaining access to entitlements,
benefits. If you need to go shopping they’ll come and
take you shopping. Big smile on their faces, no problem. Any human being would like that. We offer support to our parents, our family
population. A lot of our youth are a part of an intergenerational cycle of poverty and
homelessness. We are wanting to put as many resources as possible into breaking that cycle. We garden with the kids and get them involved
promoting having local, homegrown foods. We have a high priority on building community
and helping tenants get connected with each other. Our property managers and our services staff
meet regularly to discuss how people are doing, who is on the edge of addiction and what kind
of creative ways can we come up with to help that person maintain their housing. Well I’m grateful. I’m grateful that they’ve
helped me out. I’m appreciative. I’m just really grateful. Avalon’s like my big stepping stone. It’s
given me the choice to come up in life. I just can’t say how much Avalon meant to
me. If you can lift up a fellow human being, you’re lifting yourself up. As we’ve seen in today’s episode, finding
a safe place to live is the first step to independence. Thank you for joining me, Anne Grantner, for
today’s episode. If you would like more information on anything in today’s show, please go to
brightsidetv.com. Thank you! Show the Adopt a Family stuff. Okay, come on, we’ll go in the other… we’ll
go in. This is the staging room for all of the Adopt a Family things that have come through.
[returns to previous room, now with new presents] Oh my gosh, we just… wait a minute, didn’t
we just leave this room? We just walked through here! Of the… Cut. Sorry. You know, that’s where we’re at. We went from
nothing to– –If you have a hairstyle, you can always
do anything.

Stephen Childs

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