Picture a cold Michigan winter day with a forecast for overnight temperatures dropping into single digits. Then picture you have a young child and nowhere to stay but your car. For some of our customers, this was their situation just a few months ago. Luckily, Disability Network received funding from the United Way Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region Disaster Relief Fund to provide temporary emergency housing, such as 3-4 day stays at a local hotel.
Disability Network has provided financial assistance to more than 30 customers who were experiencing homelessness this year. For most customers, a 3-4 night stay in a local hotel was enough time to get them to their next housing situation. Some customers had experienced an eviction, had found new housing arrangements but their new permanent housing wasn’t quite ready. For another person, he needed a place to stay in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19. A few other customers were living in tents and were looking for more stable shelter.
Typically, when a customer contacts Disability Network it is for one need, such as housing or transportation. However, Disability Network staff often find the customer actually has other areas in their life that they are struggling with and need some direction. Temporary emergency housing may have been provided, but other needs like obtaining vital records, applying for disability benefits and securing permanent housing were also addressed in many circumstances. One Disability Network staff member said, “This is an exciting grant because it feels like we are walking with people on a journey of long-term solutions.”