Oakland County may be the wealthiest of Michigan’s 83 countries, but not everyone who lives here is wealthy or break-even.
US census figures show that of the county’s approximately 1.3 million residents, just over 100,000 cannot afford adequate housing, food or transportation. Among those households are about 2,500 homeless students, according to Russ Russell, Lighthouse’s director of development.
On Monday, he led Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel on tours of the lighthouse food warehouse and a temporary shelter for people.
Despite the waning pandemic, he said, Lighthouse still has a waiting list for people who need help. A pilot program, he said, matches a stable family with a family in need, to work directly with them on housing and employment.
“People have a perception of Oakland County that there aren’t people who are home insecure or food insecure,” she said. “Unfortunately, that’s just not true, at all.”
She wanted to identify programs that work across the state, and then find ways for lawmakers to support those programs.
“We always say, ‘What difference does it make to what the state can give you, if you, as an individual, don’t know?’ »
The current 37,000 square foot Lighthouse warehouse currently contains, in addition to thousands of dollars in groceries, a few leftover bikes from Lighthouse’s annual Adopt-a-Family event, huddled together in part of the warehouse and stack after stack of brand new mattresses, donated to help refugees from Ukraine settle into their future homes.
Nine full-time staff work in the food distribution program, but hundreds more lend a hand sorting bulk donations, repacking food for household-sized distribution.
Outside the warehouse, a refrigerated truck contains milk, eggs, meat and fresh produce.
Lighthouse offers home deliveries, two on-site shopping malls, and works with churches, seniors’ apartment complexes, and social service agencies. Last year, nearly 7,000 volunteer slots were filled by area residents, who gave nearly 26,000 hours of their time to help others, according to Marci Fitch, director of volunteer services at Lighthouse. She said volunteers completed nearly 5,000 food service shifts, donating more than 19,000 hours of time to keep the food supply line moving.
Nessel asked how Lighthouse helps families in crisis when they have pets, and Russell pointed to an area with columns of bags of pet food, noting that Lighthouse works with animal rescues.
She also discussed the ways Michigan is helping people get back on their feet.
The attorney general said current statewide programs include helping people who have lost their driver’s licenses get them back, and the expungement program, which helps people clear unsentenced criminal records. violent.
Nessel said the state now offers Uber rides for people who want to get to license reinstatement events.
“In the criminal justice system, we look for ways to divert people from the criminal justice system to jobs, housing, and finding food for their families,” she said.
Nessel told Russell she would support her efforts to secure grants that would help those in poverty.
People who want to verify charities before donating can visit the AG’s website or call (517) 335-7571 with questions about nonprofits.