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Non-profit helping Detroit homeless to lose 40% of annual funding

A homeless man next to a garbage bag under a tree
Flickr/Elvert Barnes
UCHC serves mostly people facing eviction, while HUD is prioritizing aid to the "hardcore homeless."

A Detroit non-profit that helps people who are homeless or facing eviction is losing a major chunk of its funding.

Ted Phillips, director of United Community Housing Coalition, says the Department of Housing and Urban development (HUD) isn’t renewing two grants UCHC relies on for 40% of its annual funding.

“We’ve had a housing placement program the entire time that I’ve been here since 1986. And the thought of that being lost is just devastating,” Phillips said.

The group helps about 1,000 homeless people in Detroit each year, though Phillips said the need in the city is much greater.

“And I just don’t see any other support for them that’s available out there,” he said. “Where do we tell them to turn to? And I don’t get any answers on that because there clearly isn’t anyone else doing the type of work that we do.”

UCHC helps people navigate a confusing and sometimes predatory real estate landscape in Detroit. UCHC counsels people to find housing legitimately owned by honest landlords. UCHC will inspect the housing, verify landlord ownership and often provide some sort of financial assistance for people to get into a new home.

UCHC also provides some job placement services and GED classes, according to Phillips. HUD classifies the kind of counsel that UCHC provides people who are facing near eviction as supportive services. Phillips says HUD is prioritizing resources toward efforts to provide housing to people who are “hardcore homeless,” living on the streets. 

“Given that we’re sort of the last bastion for people who are about to be evicted... that seems to be very short-sighted,” Phillips said. “The biggest population we service are those that are facing an eviction and are going to be much worse off if we don’t intervene.”

Phillips said UCHC is appealing the decision by HUD, but the timeline isn’t clear. To prepare for a likely loss of a major funding source, Phillips said UCHC has already made some layoffs and is looking at other ways to save money.

Tyler Scott is the weekend afternoon host at Michigan Radio, though you can often hear him filling in at other times during the week. Tyler started in radio at age 18, as a board operator at WMLM 1520AM in Alma, Michigan, where he later became host of The Morning Show.