Duggan announces new program to help vulnerable Detroiters during COVID-19

According to the City, more than 36% in Detroit live below the poverty line - something that's exacerbated by COVID-19. Many of these families are even more isolated from support than normal, which means they often don't know how they can get help.  

Mayor Mike Duggan announced Wednesday a new initiative from the city of Detroit called Detroit Community Health Corps. The program provides emergency support for struggling Detroit families during the pandemic. 

"I don't know if anybody in Michigan has ever done this before," Duggan said Wednesday at his news conference.

Billed as a one-of-a-kind program, its goal is to connect them with food security, utilities, home assistance programs, water assistance and other programs right away. About 160 families are immediately being covered.  

"People that our housing and water department have already identified as people with multiple issues, we're going to go into those 160 homes, start the program of assessing what we can do to help…and assess opportunities for employment," Duggan said.

The goal is to expand next year beyond these initial 160 families being helped in their own homes by community health workers knocking on doors to address crisis needs.  

"What we want to do with this particular program is go out to where those persons are and find them rather than them having to come and find us," said Conrad Mallett, Detroit's deputy mayor.

They're focused here on what's called restorative case management and trauma care.  

"Poverty, in fact, creates its own stresses and there's a lot of literature out there that says that a great number of people living below the poverty line experience PTSD," Mallett said.

"We will grind out solutions to problems…one at a time and that will get us on a path to building a system of solutions," Nicole Sherard-Freeman said, who's with Workforce Development and Detroit At Work.
The lead case manager will be a licensed social worker leading a team. At least two will have expertise including clinical and mental health specialization.

The mayor says they're using some COVID funding for the program right now but it appears the city is looking for additional funding.