Fri. Sep 29th, 2023
Homelessness in Detroit: A Growing Crisis

Tonya Hogan experienced homelessness for the first time in her life after the death of her husband and her inability to pay the bills. In 2022, the number of homeless women and families in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland rose significantly. According to the Homeless Action Network of Detroit (HAND), the number of women in shelters increased by 18%, and the number of unhoused families went up by 14%.

Linda Little, the president and CEO of the Neighborhood Service Organization (NSO), described the situation as a dynamic where women and children are being displaced at an unprecedented rate. Homelessness is not a singular issue with a single cause. It can result from mental health challenges, substance abuse, evictions, and affordability problems. Many homeless individuals and families are likely uncounted in official data, which primarily focuses on those in shelters and housing programs.

Finding shelter is only the first step in the journey out of homelessness. Housing choice vouchers and leads often have long wait times, and affordable units and landlords willing to accept subsidies are in short supply. Once someone does secure housing, maintaining stability becomes another challenge, especially for those living in poverty without emergency funds.

Tonya Hogan’s story exemplifies these challenges. After her husband’s death, she lost their home and had to leave everything behind. She struggled to find placement in a shelter for three months before eventually ending up at a Salvation Army shelter for women and children. Tonya faced difficulties finding employment due to the need to care for her service dog, Pepper.

The growing crisis of homelessness in Detroit highlights the need for improved support and resources for vulnerable individuals and families. Addressing the root causes of homelessness, including affordable housing and access to mental health services, is crucial in reducing homelessness and providing individuals with a path towards stability and self-sufficiency.