Blog - Rebuilding Together

A Glance at Veteran’s in Detroit

First and foremost, Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan wants to say THANK YOU to all of our veterans who have selflessly served this country. Veterans are a huge portion of the population we seek to serve with home repair services. The least we can do is give back to those who gave so much to this country. We wanted to take a minute to show just how important it is to help get veterans connected to resources because of the increasing need without an increase in actual resources.

In a study conducted for best and worst cities in America for veterans to live, Detroit was ranked one of the worst. Detroit was given a failing score under many categories, ranking one of the worst places to find employment as well as with homelessness being one of the most prevalent issues. We landed in the top 5 cities with the most veterans living in poverty. The quality of veteran facilities was also scored very poorly. With over 600,000 veterans residing in our state, we need to do better.

In an effort to provide veterans with as many tangible resources as possible, we have compiled a list of websites below that provide different types of help for veterans facing financial instability.

 

https://www.benefits.va.gov/detroit/

https://www.detroit.va.gov/services/homeless/index.asp

https://www.waynecounty.com/

https://www.voami.org/veterans

https://www.dav.org/

https://julieslist.homestead.com/VeteranResources.html

https://www.swsol.org/veterans-services/

 

We, of course, are here for you as well and would be happy to help answer questions about our own services at any time by emailing office@rtsemi.org. Again, we thank you for your service and Happy Veteran’s Day!

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Moving Forward and New Models of Care: Chandler Park Revitalization

Our very first annual Healthy Housing Harvest Party event was a success! As the pandemic pushes all nonprofits to pivot their model of care, Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan’s staff and board did the same. In addition to doing individual homeowner projects this fall, we wanted to focus on revitalizing communities. We kick-started this effort by holding a park clean up event in Chandler Park of Detroit. With only a month to put the event together, we moved efficiently to partner with Chandler Park Conservancy. The central idea behind the event was to create larger and more engaged volunteer base for our organization, and be present in the community of Detroit during these tough times. While expanding our model of care, we also wanted to keep healthy homes at the forefront of our minds for this community, so we planned to have 150 safe and healthy home kits distributed to the homeowners in the area that same day.

Each kit included a fire extinguisher, carbon monoxide detector, smoke detector, window insulation kit, damprid, ant traps, and a first aid kit. These items are essential to keeping a home safe and healthy. By providing the tools for people to keep their homes safe, without entering their homes ourselves, we were able to fulfill our mission of repairing homes, revitalizing communities, and rebuilding lives. 

Being at the event itself provided a new, hopeful perspective for Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan. Seeing all the volunteers and community members at this event, wearing masks and social distanced throughout the park, and making such a significant impact in this community, reminded us of how much an organization can accomplish if it is willing to be creative in the hardest of times. Sometimes the toughest conditions can lead us to see the best in new things, and that can help to improve prior ideas and offer a new way forward.

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MSHDA Grant to Help Mapleridge Homeowners

You may have seen recently that Rebuilding Together Southeast MI is urgently looking to receive homeowner applications from the neighborhood of Mapleridge in District 4 of Detroit. We wanted to take a minute to explain what that is all about! Michigan State Housing Development Authority has awarded us a $15,000 grant to be put toward 5 low-income family homes in the neighborhood of Mapleridge to be used by the end of the 2020 year. We are working to use these funds to assist with mainly exterior repairs such as gutter/fascia board replacement, porch structure/foundation repair, front step repair/handrail installation, chimney tuck pointing, roof patching/repair, exterior siding replacement, window replacement and door replacement along with a few interior repairs such as water heater and furnace replacements.

Many times, exterior repairs can be overlooked because you spend all of your time inside the home and find things that need fixing on the interior. However, most don’t quite realize the extensive damage that can be done to the home if the exterior is not safe and functioning properly. Not having a solid and porch structure and steps with handrails leads to devastating falls and injuries for elderly homeowners. Without a sealed roof that sheds water properly and functioning gutters, the house can get leaks, flooding and many other issues that lead to weakening of the foundation. Rather than letting these things go unnoticed, we do a full home inspection of every eligible applicant that we plan to work on so that our program manager can properly identify what the greatest needs of the house are to make sure it is as safe to live in as possible.

We are still currently looking for a few more homeowner applications in the Mapleridge neighborhood, zip code 48205. If you have any questions regarding our program or would like to apply, you can email us at office@rtsemi.org or call in at 313-766-4010. You can find an online and printable application on our website under the “Our Service” tab.

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Fire Safety in Detroit

The city of Detroit has had a history of fire safety issues, noted in a study done in 2017 that showed the disproportionate rate Detroit residents were experiencing fires in their residences, 18% compared to the 13% national average at the time. 

Since then, the city of Detroit and organizations within the city have taken initiatives in order to help to prevent fires in resident’s homes as well as structural building fires. One of these initiatives were spurred by a grant given to Wayne State University’s College of Urban Studies by State Farm Neighborhood Assist Program. This grant allowed Wayne State to partner with Detroit Fire Prevention and Safety program to install smoke detectors and CO detectors, visit Detroit homes, and educate residents in fire prevention and best safety practices. Beyond this, the city of Detroit now has a “Mobile Fire Safety House” program wherein they educate children on the importance of fire detection, evacuation and safety by exposing them to hands-on methods. Most of these programs are at early childhood facilities, and Head Start programs with a fee associated. 

Detroit continues to evolve everyday, to become safer for residents and improve the social safety net for those most at risk. Rebuilding together is continuously thinking of how we can better serve Detroit, and have been selected to be in a grant contest from State Farm. We hope to use the funds from this grant to continue working on fire safety in Detroit by passing out fire safety kits to homeowners. By equipping residents with fire extinguishers, (OTHER MATERIALS HERE), we are helping homeowners to feel safer and more confident in their homes. Many materials associated with fire safety have a high price tag on them, and for low income residents fire prevention and safety may not feel like a priority. These kits intend to bridge that gap and give these necessary materials to homeowners who need it most. 

If you haven’t voted for us, please click the link below. You can vote 10x a day until October 3rd and if you screenshot your screen after voting and tag us on social media with your screenshot you will be entered into a raffle for a free Rebuilding Together t-shirt! 

 

 

Wayne State University-Center for Urban Studies article: 

https://today.wayne.edu/news/2017/04/10/wayne-states-center-for-urban-studies-receives-state-farm-award-for-home-fire-safety-campaign-in-detroit-6075

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Understanding and Advocating for Mental Health Awareness

TW: Suicide and mental health 

Today, we want to take a moment to recognize that it is suicide awareness month. We understand that mental health is important to all communities and can also contribute to the health and safety of your home. As we focus on veterans as a main population we serve here at Rebuilding Together, we want to raise awareness and provide resources to those who may need them. The mental health of veterans has statistically been a growing problem in this country. 

The National Council for Behavioral Health shows some shocking statistics on their website stating that 30 percent of active duty and reserve military personnel deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan have a mental health condition requiring treatment yet less than 50% of those people get the treatment they need. The Veterans Administration reports that approximately 22 veterans die by suicide every day. While these statistics are concerning, it is important to stay informed. Mental health affects all of our lives whether it’s personally or you know someone who’s struggled with mental health and these resources may be able to help you.

Listed here is a resource to those struggling with thoughts of suicide or who need immediate help. For the National Suicide Prevention Line call 1-800-273-8255. To get to the Veterans Crisis Line dial and Press 1 or text to 838255.

We recognize that a huge contributor to mental health is your surroundings which can include your home. Especially in times like today with COVID when people are spending a lot more time inside their home, there is a greater need to make sure it is a safe and healthy living environment physically and mentally.

 If you are not taking steps to take care of both your mental and physical health, it can be detrimental. While staying at home is helping you to stay safe, it is important to understand how to keep your home safe. Rebuilding Together has 7 principles of safe and healthy housing that are a part of every project we do, and could be something for you and your household to keep in mind while you’re spending so much more time at home. Attached you’ll find those seven principles on a printable postcard, you can check in monthly to see if your household is ensuring that these seven principles are being addressed. While taking care of your physical home is important, it is also important to take care of your mental health. These contribute to one another, having a healthy home gives a safe environment to pay attention to mental health, and proper mental health care helps to provide a stable household practices, like taking care of your home. Here are some best practices for mental health that our staff have taken on during these times!

Practicing mindfulness: This can look like a lot of different things, something that you could try is downloading Headspace, an app that helps you to connect with yourself and meditate wherever you may be! This can help to ground you and stop negative thoughts before they become detrimental to your day to day mental health. 

Taking time to be outdoors when you can: This could be a short walk around your neighborhood, or going to a park. Taking a break from work or being in the same place for too long can help you to distance yourself from day to day anxieties!

Practice drawing boundaries with yourself and your work/household: Sometimes when you have to stay home for too long, it can feel like everything blends together and the responsibilities never end. Take some time to draw boundaries, set certain times for work, household chores, and taking care of yourself.

Be kind to yourself, you deserve it! It can be challenging to prioritize your mental health in times like these, but it can help you to better take care of your household and home, as well as prevent future problems.

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Inequities and Trends for Female Heads of Households

The number of female heads of household has consistently risen over time. Just 10 years ago, the Center for American Progress put out a study noting a new trend in rising female heads of household. Now, that number has increased even more, making single mothers the primary source of income in 41% of homes, earning at least half of the income for the household. The increase in female heads of household has taken a steady increase from 1997 to 2017, when the Center for American progress put out another study. See below, the figure from the Center for American Progress details the increase of bread-winning mothers from 1967 to 2017.

While these numbers have been rising, it is important to note the economic state of these households which affect working women who are trying to support a family. Although the number of bread-winning women has steadily increased in the past 20 years, the work-family model remains systemically unsupported. Paired with that, full time working women still only make 81% of what full time working men make on average. This affects the state of the household and the home, creating a disparity for female heads of household.

This makes it harder for these households to support themselves on a day to day basis, let alone be able to take care of their home properly. Rebuilding Together has affiliates across the United States that work to provide healthy homes for those who need it the most, including female heads of household living in low-income homes.

The Center for American Progress also found that mothers in low income families are more likely than their high-income counterparts to be the breadwinners. This illustrates the point that women as heads of household are more likely to live in poverty, more likely to be working the minimum wage jobs, and having to take care of their families on their own. This disparity is socioeconomic and cultural, as our culture perpetuates a standard for women that does not include single working mothers and often overlooks the struggles that are inherent in this role.

Creating an environment that is safe and healthy for every home should be inherent, and easy to attain. And yet, single female head of households have to work twice as hard to provide for their families and often live in residences that need the most work done.

Rebuilding Together works to help the households and homeowners who need it most, and strives to make housing more equitable in the areas we serve. The work we do will always strive to meet the needs of the homeowner and help make their home healthier and safer. In 2019, 71% of the homes surveyed after being served by Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan were owned by women.

Today, we wanted to make this blog post and recognize National Women’s Day and the work that all women do to take care of themselves, their homes, families and communities. Every time work is done in the area of recognizing socioeconomic inequities for women, it is a reminder that we all can support women in different ways in our respective roles. Supporting organizations that prioritize the health of low-income families and keeping ourselves educated on the struggles of women are all great ways to stay engaged and connect with the communities across the US that are affected by these inequitable practices every day.

Article link: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/women/reports/2019/05/10/469739/breadwinning-mothers-continue-u-s-norm/

The Anniversary of Hurricane Harvey – A Time to Reflect

Multiple states and agencies nationwide were called to assist citizens impacted by the epic amount of rainfall in Texas and Louisiana from Hurricane Harvey. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel J. Martinez)

Today marks 3 years since Hurricane Harvey swept through Southern Texas producing $125 billion in damage. With nearly 135,000 homes destroyed and 13 million people affected, Harvey was the second most costly and damaging hurricane to hit the U.S. since 1900. Because of the large impact this storm had, many are still recovering from the devastation that struck. Today, we take a moment to remember those deeply affected by losses from August 25th, 2017, the beginning of a horrible disaster.

With around 60,000 people dying a year due to natural disasters of many kinds, it seems like there should be more resources to help those in typically affected areas prepare for such events so they can not only stay safe but try to retain their homes so less are homeless in the aftermath. Wanting to put more efforts toward disaster relief, Rebuilding Together created a new program designed specifically for disaster resiliency. Initially, the main focus was on recovery and rebuilding after a natural disaster strikes. Within the last year, Rebuilding Together decided to expand its scope and include four major aspects when looking at disaster resiliency and what that means – mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. Through this came the disaster resiliency fellowship that is now offered to AmeriCorps members in certain locations. They work to not only pick up the pieces after a storm but help that area prepare beforehand so the aftermath is less devastating. Initial mitigation and preparedness are huge steps that are often lacking so we turned our efforts in that direction in hopes that it will lessen the damage repair needed to be done in the last stage of responding to the crisis.

Rebuilding Together, as a national organization, works to not only provide safe and healthy homes but also strives to be a resource for many in horrible situations like those who have lost homes due to a natural disaster. While we continue to grow our services, we also always encourage communities to stick together. There is a lot of power behind neighbors helping neighbors.

Link to article referred to in this blog post:

2017 Hurricane Harvey: Facts, FAQs, and how to help

 

High Senior Death Rate in Wayne County Causes Concern

For many years, there has been a clear issue in the city of Detroit – there is an increasing number of older adults with chronic illness and no sign in sight of increasing resources to fit their needs. The Detroit Area Agency on Aging and Wayne State University Medical School teamed up to examine the death rate demographics in Detroit in comparison to surrounding cities and the evidence was quite shocking. The article states, “the death rate is 122% higher for people ages 50-59 in Detroit and the neighboring suburbs in comparison to those of the same age in the rest of Michigan.” One of the driving factors behind this statistic is the poor quality of life for many. With unhealthy living conditions in homes and little access to affordable resources to fix these issues, many homeowners are not living in a safe space.

An even more shocking figure in the article shows “the average life expectancy of Midtown Detroit residents is 69, which is 13 years shorter than residents of the Grosse Pointe area, a few miles away.” How can there be such a gap in the health of these city’s residents with just a few miles separation? To take a closer look into this, about one in five older adults in Metro Detroit live in poverty, more than double the state rate. Comparing this to Grosse Pointe where the poverty rate is only around 6%, below the state rate, you can see the difference in the ability to access resources needed to live a fully healthy life therefore extending the life expectancy rate.

Seeing how prevalent these issues are reminds us of the need for more organizations to exist to provide necessary resources to the many that never receive them. While Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan tries to reach as far and wide as we can to provide maximum service, we are still very limited in our own resources. However, we try to take this information and use it in determining who and where there is the greatest need for service. In our home repair efforts in 2019, 46% of the homes we worked on had at least one older adult resident. Moving forward, we remain dedicated to seek out this population and we are always looking for outreach opportunities to expand our abilities so that we are truly working to live out our mission. Repairing homes, Revitalizing communities, Rebuilding lives.

To read the full article this information was drawn from, click the link below:

https://www.detroitnews.com/story/life/wellness/2020/08/10/detroit-senior-citizens-higher-mortality-rate/3320137001/

 

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My Beginning-AmeriCorps Outreach Coordinator Oakland County

Hi, my name is Aliza and I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce myself to the Rebuilding Together community. I started my service here two weeks ago as an AmeriCorps Outreach Coordinator for Oakland county. Before beginning this position, I graduated from Wayne State University in May with a degree in political science. I am very interested in urban design, community organizations and building, and nonprofit service work, which is how I came to this position at Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan. I look forward to learning more about the nonprofit sector, how Rebuilding Together contributes to the communities of Oakland and Wayne county, and help residents in these areas. Through the direct communication I am responsible for with homeowners, I hope to gain the experience of working empathically and practically through homeowner inquiries and projects. I am incredibly excited to continue working and learning alongside these communities, and making sure the resources Rebuilding Together provides are accessible to Oakland and Wayne county!

Lindsey

My Beginning – AmeriCorps Outreach Coordinator Wayne County

Hello! I am Lindsey Johnson, one of the newest AmeriCorps members with Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan. A few things about my background that led me to start this journey: I graduated from James Madison University in Virginia in December 2019 with a degree in Hospitality Management. I took a job right after graduating but due to COVID-19 I became one of many that were laid off. In the hunt for a new job, I came across the opportunity to serve with AmeriCorps, something I had never heard of prior to then. I really enjoyed the idea of being able to take a degree and work experience that is much different than the work done in a nonprofit like Rebuilding Together and be able to bring a unique perspective to it. I am most looking forward to learning as much as I can about the nonprofit world during my time here and see where that will lead me going into a new career in the future. I believe this experience could greatly shift my career focus which is a huge excitement for me. I am thrilled to embark on this journey as an AmeriCorps Outreach Coordinator for Wayne County!

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Alexis’ AmeriCorps Experience

This service year has been a rollercoaster, full of highs and lows. With every new movement I felt a sense of growth and achievement. Throughout the year I have had the pleasure to travel to travel to; Tacoma Washington, St. Louis, Missouri, and New Orleans, Louisiana. I have interacted with 300 or more Homeowners from processing applications, meeting them in the office, assisting at outreach events and answering the phones. Working with homeowners has been beyond humbling and emotional. Some homeowners have brought me to tears with their words of advice, their stories and their commitment to community. Talking with volunteers has reminded me that no matter how successful I become I will always make time to give back. The beginning of my term went from spending each day around inspirational people, to working from home every day. In this pandemic I have come to see that Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan does very well with supporting its staff and making sure to never stop serving the community, even when the office is closed.

The staff at Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan has become an extended family who have helped me become a more professionally rounded person. Working under the leadership of Halie Black has been amazing and inspirational. Halie is innovative, knowledgeable and full of passion, she has inspired me to stay involved in the nonprofit sector and eventually begin my own in the far future. Working under the supervision of Chris Perkins has improved my research skills, broaden my resources in the city of Detroit and inspired me to be more knowledgeable. Chris has been the most knowledgeable, patient and trusting supervisor. His ability to assign new task to challenge and also improve our skills in the office was impeccable, especially in the trying times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally working under Mike Hurst was exciting, I honestly felt like Mike kept everyone on their toes in the office. With his overall expertise, and patience to not just show the final product, but to teach how to do new task, has definitely made me feel as if I need to love whatever work that I do, so when I do that work it is always done well.

I think one of the most important parts to mention about my entire service year was working alongside Emma Steele. We both came into our service year fresh from college graduation and were in similar spaces in life. Emma was someone I could confide in, bounce ideas off of and just relate to in general. So, to everyone I had the pleasure to meet and learn from thank you for this experience.

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Emma’s AmeriCorps Experience

     Being the AmeriCorps Outreach Coordinator for Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan (RTSEM) was my first “grownup” job. I started the position right out of college and I had never worked full time or in an office environment before. Due to this being a relatively new experience for me, at the cusp of my term, I honestly didn’t have many expectations. All I had was the hope I’d get to do meaningful community service and become more involved in the community around me. Looking back at my experience, I would say that my expectations were met although not necessarily in the ways I thought they would be. Even though my term didn’t go entirely how I thought it would, I can certainly say that I got to be involved in meaningful community service.

     Out of everything I did in the past 10 and a half months, I take the most pride in my service project. I created and led cultural awareness training with our house captains. It’s something I feel will hopefully stay around at RTSEM after I’ve moved on and it makes me glad to know I may have left some impact behind. Aside from my own personal work, other amazing highlights of my term were working with and getting to know my co-workers, attending outreach events, meeting community members, and being able to travel to new places and meet fantastic and inspirational people. Some of my favorite memories in the past year of my life happened on Rebuilding Together sanctioned trips with my fellow CapacityCorps members. I feel so thankful to have met all of them and that I know I have a network within them moving forward.  

   Like most people, I didn’t expect a massive global pandemic. In terms of my job, that resulted in me serving from home for just under half of my term and that most of RTSEM’s build days were canceled. While I can’t lie and say that it wasn’t disappointing, these changes forced me to learn new things and focus on tasks that I wouldn’t have if I wasn’t working remotely. I was able to grow my knowledge and ability to manage our social media accounts, create outreach literature that can be used in the future, and research demographic and outreach data in our service area. 

    Overall, I am grateful for the experience I had, the skills I gained, and the people that I met along the way. I will be leaving AmeriCorps with a greater understanding of non-profit organizations, housing security, and a great network of people that I know I can reach out to. The lessons I learned throughout these past 10 and a half months will definitely stick with me for a long time.

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Address

27840 Independence Street

Farmington Hills, MI 48336

Phone

Oakland County : 248-482-8061

Wayne County :  313-766-4010

Office@RTsemi.org 

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