Alpena County

Homelessness prevention advocates arm locals with info | Information, Sports activities, Jobs



Information Picture by Julie Riddle
Artwork Ohlrich, well being look after homeless veterans case supervisor for the U.S. Division of Veterans Affairs in Alpena, standing, speaks to members in an Affiliation of Lifelong Learners presentation on the Alpena Neighborhood Faculty campus on Monday. Victoria Purvis, director of homeless and prevention companies for the Northeast Michigan Neighborhood Service Company, seems on the fitting, and Vicki Denstaedt, McKinney Vento homeless liaison for Alpena Public Colleges, seems on the left.


ALPENA — Fixing an enormous downside begins with information, stated presenters talking about homelessness within the Alpena space on Monday.

In Northeast Michigan, 302 folks — together with 96 youngsters, 21 veterans, and 42 seniors — at the moment haven’t any residence, stated representatives of a number of organizations that assist folks experiencing homelessness, addressing about two dozen members of the Affiliation of Lifelong Learners.

With inexpensive housing scarce and dwelling prices climbing, homelessness numbers proceed to climb regionally, together with a skyrocketing variety of youngsters recognized as homeless, attendees realized.

Some folks going through homelessness, together with navy veterans, may surmount the obstacles that maintain them out of a house if solely somebody helps them, stated Victoria Purvis, director of homeless and prevention companies for the Northeast Michigan Neighborhood Service Company.

The neighborhood will help companies preventing to get folks into houses by arming themselves with information in regards to the extent of native homelessness and the companies supplied by native companies who work collectively to get folks into houses, Purvis stated.

“The top objective,” she stated, “is to verify they by no means return to homelessess once more.”

On the tail finish of Homeless Consciousness Month, celebrated in November annually, Purvis joined Artwork Ohlrich, well being look after homeless veterans case supervisor for the U.S. Division of Veterans Affairs in Alpena, and Vicki Denstaedt, who serves homeless youngsters in Alpena-area faculties, for the ALL discussion board.

As attendees requested occasional questions, Purvis defined NEMCSA’s partnership with 50 landlords in Alpena County who present leases to these experiencing homelessness beneath NEMCSA’s voucher program.

These leases are almost all the time full, with ready lists, Purvis stated.

Folks with out houses waited a median of 69 days to get into a house in 2021, up from 59 days in 2020, she instructed the group.

Those that have houses might wrestle to maintain them. Final yr, based mostly on native knowledge, a single mom needing a two-bedroom rental needed to work 77-hour work weeks at $19 an hour to make lease funds, Purvis instructed attendees.

Her company locates accessible housing, helps folks pay lease, teaches them life expertise to keep off one other homelessness occasion, and connects them to sources to maintain them fed, clothed, and heat, she stated.

On the Veterans Administration, Ohlrich frequently works with veterans who, in some circumstances due to post-traumatic stress dysfunction or severe mind harm, lack easy expertise that may maintain them in a house.

“We now have veterans who earn more money than me who’re homeless,” he stated, explaining that navy service leaves some with nervousness or impulsive behaviors that make primary life duties overwhelming.

He described one veteran who managed properly till helicopters from the Alpena Fight Readiness Coaching Middle began circling over his residence throughout a coaching train. Suffering from PTSD, the person engaged in harmful habits and misplaced his residence, Ohlrich stated.

His company connects such folks with well being care, teaches job-finding expertise, works with courts, will get veterans signed up for pensions they didn’t know they may obtain, and gives different companies, however “the VA can’t do all of it,” he stated.

Neither can those that present companies to youngsters, Denstaedt stated.

Within the first 12 weeks of this college yr, she has recognized 239 Northeast Michigan college students — together with 114 from Alpena County – who qualify for companies beneath a federal program.

Final college yr ended with 321 college students on her checklist. On the present tempo, she expects to far exceed that quantity this yr.

Already, the variety of college students recognized as homeless this yr tops these recognized in all the 2019-2020 college yr.

Lack of inexpensive housing accounts for a lot of the rise, Denstaedt stated, describing offering short-term housing in her own residence for a single mother who misplaced her rental when the owner tripled her month-to-month lease.

For youngsters dwelling in a automotive or campground, in a motel room or doubled up on the sofa of a household buddy or stranger, this system she oversees can guarantee free meals, homework assist, transportation to high school, and different instruments to provide them an opportunity at college success regardless of their circumstances.

Native companies can’t repair all issues, however they will stroll alongside these experiencing homelessness and supply a bunch of helps, from bathe vouchers to budgeting lessons to classes on baking a potato, presenters stated on Monday.

“There’s assist in our neighborhood,” Denstaedt stated. “Folks simply don’t know.”

Julie Riddle may be reached at 989-358-5693, jriddle@thealpenanews.com or on Twitter @jriddleX.



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