The federal department of Housing and Urban Development announced this week its granting $56 million dollars to Michigan to prevent homelessness. The money funds 269 separate programs all over the state.
Tears come to Stacey Carter’s eyes talking about how a major health problem led to her family sleeping in her van for a month. She got help from Community Rebuilders, one of the biggest recipients of this federal money in Kent County. Now she’s training to become a certified nurse’s assistant.
“I live in a beautiful neighborhood. My kids go to a beautiful school. I’m so blessed.”
Others who’ve received housing assistance comfort Carter because they’ve been there too.
Grand Rapids’ resident Mary Ann Williams went through one of their programs 4 years ago. She battled a drug addiction and lived in a homeless shelter because she says she had nowhere else to turn.
“Not my family, not my friend, not anybody and they (Community Rebuilders) were willing to help me like this. All I’m saying just Lord I just need this chance. You know, if you just give me another chance just to get me back on my feet, I know I can do better this time. And here they come with this program.”
The program covered most of Williams’ rent for 6 months. Now she’s got her own place, a car, a part-time job as a caterer and she’s months away from completing her GED. Williams says she plans to go to college to get her associates degree after that.
Vietnam veteran Jesse Collier says the program offers a hand up, not a hand out.
“They get you an apartment. Maybe you don’t have a job at the time. But if you’ve got to worry about the next month’s rent and try to look for a job that’s a big problem. So what they do is kind of take that pressure off to give you a chance to go out and look for that job.”
Eddie Maloney nods his head in agreement. “I really consider myself the walking dead,” he tells them. Maloney was addicted to drugs too. “I was a scarecrow,” Maloney says of himself. Last May he quit after connecting with the program. He says it was hard for him to believe he could ever get back on his feet. He’s put on 35 pounds and is happy to have his grandkids visit him at his new place.
“Tomorrow I turn 56 years old, and I’m telling you this has been the best year of my life.”
The HUD money is renewed every year. Last year, 288 agencies received a total of $61 million.