Ministry group offers house for Detroit homeless family with asthmatic child
Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries has offered a permanent residence for a homeless couple who turned their four young children over to Child Protective Services because it was too cold outside to sleep in the car.
Scores of readers and organizations stepped forward to help after The Detroit News and PBS NewsHour last week told the family’s story as part of a joint report on how emotional trauma is contributing to an asthma epidemic among children in the Motor City and nationwide.
Malik, 9, suffers from severe asthma and has endured numerous hardships during a year-long odyssey of homelessness. His parents, Dwayne Cole and Siretha Lattimore, surrendered Malik to foster care Oct. 26, along with his siblings Jaretha Cole, 11; Shamika Cole, 7; and 4-year-old Jaden, who has autism.
The home will be move-in ready by the end of the week, said Chad Audi, president of the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries.
“The house will be totally new, totally furnished and stocked with food,” Audi said Monday. “Our hope is that we will get all the family together before Christmas, and we will be sure that they have all the ingredients so they can have a nice Christmas dinner in their own house.”
Audi contacted Third Circuit Court Referee Mona Youssef on Monday to ask if a hearing could be held in time to return custody to the parents before Christmas. He also offered to outline his plans in court.
At a hearing last week, Youssef ordered “liberal and unsupervised” visitation for the four children with the parents, including overnight visitation when housing is secured.
Lattimore said Monday she is “overwhelmed and excited” by the generosity. “I appreciate it,” she said.
The Detroit Rescue Mission will provide the home rent-free for two years and pay for any home repairs, leaving only the utilities for the family to pay. The mission will provide financial and home-owner education, tutoring and summer camp for the children, and will help the parents complete their high school equivalency degrees.
After two years, the family could participate in the Mission’s Neighborhood Rescue Program, which so far has helped 35 formerly homeless families become homeowners. The program allows working families with children, or veterans, to ease into home ownership by paying only for utilities, taxes and home repairs for two years — after which they can choose to purchase the home for $1.