The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced its annual Continuum of Care grants for homeless housing and service programs in Michigan on Thursday, and this time the panic at Freedom House was only temporary.
HUD awarded $70.3 million to 296 programs from Marquette to Monroe. Some $25.4 million for 2018-19 was awarded in Detroit, including $390,841 to Freedom House, whose drastic cut in appropriations last year became the subject of widespread attention, a massive fundraising campaign, and eventually a reversal and restoration by HUD.
But the Freedom House grant appeared on the alphabetical list under “New Beginnings/New American Homeless,” a program title, rather than under the name of the organization. “I missed it the first time,” said executive director Deborah Drennan, “and I immediately sent the board a message: ‘Let’s set up a conference call.’”
She was pleased, she said, and not at all embarrassed, to quickly follow up with a second note: “Disregard, we’re fully funded.”
Freedom House, located in a former convent in southwest Detroit, has been sheltering and assisting visa-holding refugees in search of asylum for 35 years. Most other Detroit programs on the list of grants also were holdovers, said executive director Tasha Gray of the Homeless Action Network of Detroit, but she did notice one newcomer: Travis Permanent Supportive Housing.
The Travis project, launched by Cass Community Social Services (CCSS), received $382,887. It will place 17 chronically homeless single men, many with physical handicaps or mental issues, in single rooms with shared community spaces in what used to be the OB/GYN annex to the former Crittendon Hospital on Woodrow Wilson Street.
The space had formerly been used to house chronically mentally ill homeless men on a less permanent basis. With HUD prioritizing longer-term housing, that program ended in July.
“To be able to help people have dignity and autonomy in their lives, that’s all good,” said CCSS executive director Faith Fowler. “To have it be part of Continuum of Care in Detroit, that’s all good as well.”
The Michigan grants were part of $2 billion awarded to 7,300 programs nationwide. Gray said that on first look, the local totals seemed consistent with last year.