Homeless solutions groups converge in Detroit's Grand Circus Park

No matter the weather and no matter the day, the services for those who struggle with stable housing are within in reach. Normally, they're a phone call away if someone knows the right person.

Other times, like on Tuesday in Grand Circus Park, resources and services and the agencies that provide them came together for a collaboration that stretches citywide.

"It is essential for us to meet them where they are," said Ravon Alford, the executive manager at the Detroit Police Department. "So Grand Circus Park is an area that they normally populate, so we wanted to meet them where they were so they can have access to these services and resources."

And they go well beyond a backpack. 

From napkins, cooling towels and portable fans, to chargers, sunscreen, lotion, soap, and mouthwash, there are supplies for the elements and the extremes that come with housing instability. High temperatures in the summer and days of flood damage are some of the biggest threats in the warmer months.

On July 18, the Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network combined with DPD and Motor City Mitten Mission, a homeless solutions group that operates across Metro Detroit to connect individuals with supplies. 

They were also on hand with many services ready to connect with people in need of transportation, job security, addiction support, or mental health treatment. 

But before anyone may be willing to accept that charity, they need to be met in the middle.

"When they come across or encounter individuals that may be unhoused, they stop, they speak with them, they learn more about what their needs are," said Tinetra Burns, a clinical specialist at DWIHN. "They provide food, they provide hygiene kits, they provide clothing and they provide direct information about how to access care."

That trust component goes a long way. Gail Marlow, the executive director of MCMM has spent years traveling around the region and meeting with people who have been homeless for years. 

"Part of the problem in the city is affordable housing and so we can get their information and we can get them qualified and then it's going to be turning to get them housed as quickly as we can," she said.

READ MORE: "Shorts or boxers?": Riding with Motor City Mitten Mission

Marlow says the group's shelters are full, so finding available short-term and long-term housing for those who struggle can hit even bigger hurdles. 

For more information on services, call Detroit Wayne Intergreated Health Network at 1-800-241-4949. Volunteers and donations are also accepted at Motor City Mitten Mission. Email at MOTORCITYMITTENMISSION.ORG or call 313-854-5566 for more.