In-person screenings for Detroiters in need of emergency shelter and homeless prevention resources have temporarily been suspended due to an elevated risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Southwest Solutions, an organization that provides assessment and referral services for Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck residents experiencing homelessness, announced this month that an emergency hotline is being used in place of in-person screenings for now as spread of the virus is expected to rise around the winter holidays.
The counseling and housing solutions organization helps connect individuals to shelter beds, rapid rehousing programs and rental and utility assistance. The hotline is available 24/7 at (313) 305-0311, with staff on the line Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.
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In-person coordinated assessment model (CAM) services will resume on New Year’s Day.
Laura LeBlanc, executive director of philanthropy and communications for Southwest Solutions, said the temporary closure of in-person referrals won’t impact the organization’s capacity to connect people to resources. Southwest Solutions does not provide housing programs itself; the organization is an entry point to services offered by other agencies.
“People can call and they’ll be served in the same exact way they were in-person and (will be) provided the same resources,” LeBlanc said. “With COVID, we obviously had to adjust to this and had done it before. We can maintain full services to assess and refer people.”
In 2021, calls for CAM services far outnumbered in-person visits. There were 73,678 contacts last year, according to an annual report, of which only 1,986 were in-person.
Demand for referral services increases each year in the winter months. There were 2,009 people screened in September, which grew to 2,154 in October, and 2,193 this month before Thanksgiving. LeBlanc said the need for housing always increases during cold weather.
By this time next year, Southwest Solutions will no longer serve as the lead agency for the CAM referral system, which is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The Detroit Continuum of Care, a network of organizations that coordinates housing, services and funding for homeless families, plans to seek bids for a new lead agency to take over starting Sept. 1, 2023. Interested agencies are encouraged to submit a letter of intent to email@example.com by Dec. 16.
A transition consultant is also being sought to help the Continuum of Care network onboard whichever organization is selected to handle referral services next year.
Residents who need placement in a temporary shelter or are facing eviction can seek CAM services by calling (313) 305-0311 or (888) 360-WELL. Visit this online resource guide for more information about how to access soup kitchens and food pantries, clothing and childcare supplies, health care resources, housing programs and education opportunities.
The following hotlines are available for survivors of domestic violence.
- YWCA (313) 861-5300
- First Step (734) 722-6800
- Turning Point (586) 463-6990
- HAVEN (248) 334-1274
- National Domestic Violence Hotline (800) 799-SAFE