“Bridge Housing Campus” goes upstream to address housing insecurity and health

By Dennis Archambault

The construction of 40 studio apartments as temporary shelter for housing insecure people in Detroit is a major step toward eliminating chronic homelessness in the city. Homelessness has many contributing causes: financial insecurity resulting in eviction or foreclosure, mental illness, substance use disorder, and physical, sexual, and emotional abuse of youth, among others. Street medicine caregivers address immediate needs like urgent care and foot care, food and shelter, harm reduction. These are important, but what many refer to as “band aids” on the great wound of housing insecurity.

The “Bridge Housing Campus,” established as an affiliate of the Pope Francis Center, a homeless shelter, will provide social and job preparation services as well as comprehensive medical care including physical, psychological, and addiction needs. The federal government, until recently, has not provided funding needed to stimulate development of supportive housing. Together with the philanthropic sector these solutions stabilize the lives of people so they can take steps toward securing the economic wherewithal to sustain housing. As many say, housing first, then comes healthy living. Of course, economic security, health, and housing all work together.

It’s good to have the CEO of Ford Motor Company in the mix. He was quoted in a recent a Detroit Free Press article as being personally involved in the homeless issue: “The Band-Aids aren’t enough anymore. We have to deal with the root cause, the whole person. That’s why we’re here. This facility that will stand on this ground is intended for that … It’s not about Band-Aids. It’s about the whole self.”

Dennis Archambault is vice president of Public Affairs for Authority Health.