This came about since the article broke in the Lapeer County Press about The Refuge’s grand opening celebration for our new transitional housing program and farm collaborative with Stone Soup Food Pantry.
We want everyone to understand what we are trying to accomplish with this new direction for The Refuge. So, we’ve put together this collection of facts for all of you. The Refuge wishes to be transparent and above reproach. If anyone has questions, please don’t hesitate to talk to one of our board members or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. What is transitional housing?
Transitional housing is supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness. Transitional housing programs assist people who are ready to move beyond emergency shelter but need additional supportive services to move out of homelessness.
Some transitional program participants live in apartment-style quarters, while others may be in group settings where several families or individuals share a household.
Stays are limited and can last up to 12 months.Transitional housing programs are structured, emphasizing support and accountability. The rules that are in place encourage a safe and healthy environment for all residents.
The Refuge’s program provides all of the above in a shared household. In addition we provide training for job skills, help in finding employment, substance abuse programs, and family life training. The Refuge is able to do this by working with various agencies within the community to provide accurate and appropriate resources for our residents.
All of this will be done on a farm generously given to the Refuge. The farm will be a fully functional farm where those who are in the transitional housing program will be able to work while they are residents.
2. What is transitional housing not?
Transitional housing is NOT a homeless shelter. In a homeless shelter, people can come in off the streets and find food, a warm bed, and a roof in a temporary emergency situation. Persons in need of our services must qualify for our program. We want to go beyond the immediate needs of the homeless. These are only symptoms of homelessness. The concern for the Refuge is the whole person and helping them through a crisis in their lives. This is a help-up not a hand-out.
This program will be beneficial in keeping the homeless of the streets long term. The homeless now live in tents in the woods, behind businesses and abandoned buildings, and even in our back yards. They go from shelter to shelter and the deeper need is never addressed. The mandate of Jesus Christ is that we welcome the stranger in and help them.
Some do understand what we are trying to accomplish in our great city. The Lapeer Township zoning ordinances do not include language allowing for transitional housing. In order to change these ordinances the Lapeer Township is requiring several items which will take time. With the requirements placed upon The Refuge by the Lapeer Township we are being delayed in our efforts.
With the winter season just around the corner this will only prolong the efforts of The Refuge in helping men, women, and children who wish to transition out of homelessness. Perhaps the better solution for the Lapeer Township is compromise. Instead of "cease and desist" maybe we could all come to the table and work out our differences and help those who are in most need. With winter approaching this needs to be done very soon and without delay.