Picture the Possibilities3 min read

You do not have to close your eyes to imagine homeless youth living on the streets of Detroit, because this vision is, unfortunately, a reality. If you drive around the city you will see children who have aged out of foster care without a home, teen moms, and families without the resources necessary to provide a life for their children. It is a growing issue across the United States, but there is a concentrated population of homeless youth right here in our own back yard.

After listening to staff express the need for adequate housing for children and families in Detroit, the Lutheran Child & Family Service of Michigan Board of Directors decided it was time to take matters into their own hands. They began discussing how they could meet this need through community partnerships.

LCFS was fortunate to find a natural partnership with Focus: HOPE in Detroit. Focus: HOPE is an organization dedicated to finding intelligent and practical solutions to the problems of hunger, economic disparity, inadequate education, and racial divisiveness. Through this partnership not only would youth and families have adequate housing, but they also would be able to receive educational and vocational training through a number of programs.

After months of planning and preparation, in June 2011, LCFS held a groundbreaking ceremony for Oakman Place Apartments. Actual construction started in December of 2010. The complex includes nine one-bedroom and 15 two-bedroom units on Oakman Blvd, just east of the Focus: HOPE campus. The nine one-bedroom units are reserved for homeless youth and one of the two-bedroom units for homeless families.  The remaining units have been made available to families at 60 percent AMI (Area Media Income) or below.

“The development of Oakman Place was truly blessed by God,”explains Eric Musum, LCFS Director of Affordable Housing. “There was any number of things that could happen along the way to unravel the project. In the end, Oakman Place was built in less than 12 months, and is now fully occupied.” 

Just five days into 2012, Lutheran Child & Family Service of Michigan, along with its community partners, held a ribbon cutting ceremony at Focus: HOPE to celebrate the completion of Oakman Place Apartments. We were fortunate to have Michigan District President Rev. David P. E. Maier speak at the event in January and offer his blessing over the completed building and its tenants.

However, the story doesn’t end there. Now we have to work with the tenants, particularly those who were formerly homeless. The objective is to work with them to acquire the necessary education and job skills in order to obtain gainful employment while becoming an active member of the community.

“The resources to fund this program, provide mentors, and meet basic needs are few. This is an excellent opportunity to engage the Michigan District, LCMS and the local churches and have them wrap Oakman Place and the community with the love of Christ.  I look forward to seeing the change in these tenants’ lives and the community as a result of this project,”explains Musum.

Without staff listening to the needs of our clients, the quick action of the Board of Directors, and the strong partnership with community and the Michigan District, this project would not have been possible. Now, because of this program, lives will be changed and there will be fewer people without a home on the streets of Detroit.

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About the Author

Jill M. Haiser is the Vice President of Marketing, Recruitment and Brand Strategy and Chief Marketing Officer for Wellspring

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