How the outbreak is affecting some of our clients

April 1st, 2020
Darryl, Diana's family, Ondrae, Brian, and Taz

Five individuals served by Southwest Solutions describe how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting their lives and what they are doing to cope with the stress.


Darryl E. overcame homelessness and addiction with the help our supportive housing program and his strong faith. He was profiled in this story. Darryl was recently appointed as a consumer representative on our Counseling Board Committee.

Darryl E.

The COVID-19 outbreak has had tragic consequences for Darryl’s family. His 37-year-old nephew died from the disease on March 22.

“It’s a really rough time for our family,” Darryl said. “We can’t congregate to console each other and have a funeral to say farewell. My nephew was healthy, except for some asthma. He leaves behind a 12-year-old son.

“I am feeling isolated in my apartment alone, though I read my Bible even more to comfort me. Our church still has virtual gatherings through video streaming, so my spiritual relationship remains strong. I miss my in-person NA [Narcotics Anonymous] meetings, but I speak to my sponsors every day.

“The mental stress of going out is very difficult. I need to get a money order for my rent, but you feel so wary about what might happen. When you’re a social person like me, you feel like you’re being disrespectful when you step aside and keep your distance from the other person. I can’t wait until this is over.” 


Diana Alaniz, her husband and their kids moved into one of the homes available through our Newberry affordable homeownership program last summer. The family was profiled in this story.

Diana Alaniz’s family

“The outbreak has been hard on us,” Diana said. “My husband is self-employed and works in construction, but there’s been no work for weeks. I’m working part time at a healthcare center. My two teenage daughters had been working, when not in school, at a store on Vernor, but they’ve been laid off. The store owner is very kind, and he even had some groceries sent to our home to help us out.

“We’re feeling the financial stress as the bills pile up. But I have faith that we will figure things out, and I trust in God that it will get better.”

Diana’s family came to the free food distribution event on March 30 at our St. Anthony’s building in southwest Detroit. The food items were provided by Gleaners Community Food Bank. Over 300 families in need received food.


Brian Tyler

Brian Tyler is an Army veteran who trained as an Operating Room Specialist. Our Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) program helped Brian obtain housing and employment after he experienced a bout of homelessness. He is working at the Detroit Medical Center. Brian was profiled in this story.

“Because of the outbreak, I am working extra shifts at the hospital and I am often on the COVID ward providing another set of hands,” Brian said. “It’s such a scary disease. Three patients on the ward passed away last week.

“I’m concerned about my exposure to the disease. I’m a diabetic, and if I contracted COVID, it would be hard for my body to recover. But we are fighting a war against this outbreak, and as a veteran, I’m trained to be on the front line.

“I have a daughter and I’m limiting seeing her during this time to keep her safe. It’s tough on both of us. It’s hard for her to understand that she can’t hug her dad right now.”


Ondrae Ragland

Ondrae Ragland received his HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) certifications  through our Earn + Learn job training program. Ondrae then set up his own HVAC small business, which was starting to take off before the COVID-19 outbreak hit. Ondrae was profiled in this story.

“The outbreak has been horrible for business and I’m starting to look for loans and grants to get us through this time and preserve the business for the future,” Ondrae said.

“I’ve only had two repair jobs since the crisis started and both were because the customers needed emergency repairs. In one case, I replaced a broken furnace. In the other I fixed a busted water pipe.

 “I know that many of my customers are suffering. They’re worried about losing their homes because they’ve been laid off. Two of my customers have tested positive for the virus. 

“I’m feeling financial stress about taking care of my family. But I also have faith. I’ve been through a lot of challenges in life and I know that this, too, will pass. I believe that Detroit will come back stronger than ever. When our back is really against the wall, we come back fighting and achieve great things.”


Taz Lett is a formerly homeless veteran who was also helped by our SSVF program to secure housing, employment and support services. She is working for the United Way’s 2-1-1 help line. Taz was profiled in this story. She was also featured in a national ad campaign by Quicken Loans to address veteran homelessness.

Taz Lett

“I’ve been working from home for 2-1-1 since the shelter-in-place order started,” Taz said. “I’m grateful to still have a job when so many others are out of work and in need. I truly feel for them.

“The 2-1-1 line has been incredibly busy. Before the outbreak, we’d get about 500 calls a day. We’re getting around 2,000 calls a day now. I’m on the phone constantly helping people connect with the resources they need. People are scared about the disease. They’re scared about not getting their jobs back. They’re scared about losing their homes and housing, paying their bills, and feeding their families. It’s heartbreaking. 

“The social isolation of sheltering-in-place has been the hardest part for me. I try to stay in touch with friends and family through video calls, but it’s not the same as being with people.  

“I’m keeping up with my classes at the community college through the online courses in business management and medical billing. My dream is still to become a social worker one day.”

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