For ten days, veteran Lee Jackson was without electricity, heat and water in his apartment on the west side. The basement of the building was flooded with raw sewage. A fire in the unit adjacent to Lee’s, which occurred at about the
same time that Lee’s utilities went out, was extinguished by the Detroit Fire Department. This alerted Detroit officials to the deplorable conditions in the building and the need to condemn the building and relocate the few tenants who remained.
As part of a special project with the City, Southwest Solutions’ outreach team (called PATH) was asked to assist the tenants to evacuate the building, find emergency shelter, and facilitate new accommodations through programs with community partners.
Before moving into the apartment three years ago, Lee and his wife experienced a period of homelessness because of serious medical issues afflicting them both. Lee was able to secure a housing voucher from the VA that paid the couple’s rent at the building. Lee is 55 years old and had served in the Air Force from 1981 to 1987.
Last year, Lee’s wife died of cancer.
“I wanted to stay in the apartment because our memories and possessions are there,” Lee said. “It was a decent place to live before the flooding problems started. Even though there were no utilities for ten days, I was able to get by because of my military training.”
Yesterday, our PATH team helped Lee gather a few important items and then transported him to the Veterans Community Resource and Referral Center (VCRRC). Lee met with a VCRRC caseworker and then spent the night at the Michigan Veterans Foundation (MVF) facility near downtown. He will remain at MVF until he finds a suitable apartment using his housing voucher.
“I’ll need some assistance to get my things from the old apartment and then the VA will help me get another place,” Lee said. “I’ve been a loner since my wife died, but I’m trying to get out more now. I’m working on an associate degree at Wayne State. My goal is to become a computer draftsman.”
In addition to Lee, the PATH team removed tenants from two other apartments in the building. These tenants are currently in emergency housing, and Southwest Solutions is helping to arrange stable housing for them.