Local workgroup offers transitional housing support to increase long-term success

A collaborative new workgroup is emerging across Isabella County to help reduce homelessness and increase long-term success transitioning to housing.

Created out of the Isabella County Restoration House (ICRH) and operating under the Isabella County Continuum of Care, Transitions is a collaborative group between local partnering organizations to create a network able to share resources and provide support with transitional housing.

ICRH is a seasonal, rotating emergency shelter available for people who are experiencing homelessness. But once people leave the shelter, there hasn’t been dedicated support available to help people during that time. Transitions provides the tools needed by those in transitional housing to put them on the path of self-sufficiency and increase the likelihood of long-term success.   

“One reason why we feel it is important to build this group now is so that we can build a better safety net so people don't fall through the cracks,” says Dee Obrecht, ICRH Executive Director.

“I think housing is the most fundamental thing that creates success in life,” says Amanda Brake, Section 8 Coordinator, CSEC-HCV, CSO-HCV of the Mount Pleasant Housing Commission. “We can do something that not only connects people to housing but provides self-sufficiency. Here’s your house, now what are you going to do? How are you going to sign up for food stamps, school, or health care? How are you going to get that job that you can now go to on a regular basis? What we can do to make sure that we're creating sustainability — that's what Transitions is supposed to be.”
(Left) Dee Obrecht, Executive Director of the Isabella County Restoration House, and Amanda Brake, Section 8 Coordinator, CSEC-HCV, CSO-HCV of the Mount Pleasant Housing Commission.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) has created opportunities such as increased availability of housing vouchers, but Obrecht says its focus on eviction and new housing doesn’t fully address the support needed for long-term success.

“People who are chronically homeless, if they get into a situation, they can go back to being homeless,” Obrecht says. “A lot of times that is because of their living style, patterns, or choices they make, and they don't have those skills to change. Mental health is a huge issue and they have to have a place where they know where to go to get the help that they need.”

The network of support Transitions is looking to create would meet a wide range of needs. From the health department and medical clinic, counseling and case management services, food and personal hygiene products, and employment services, Obrecht says anyone who can be a resource and help with that transition is who they are hoping to bring to the table.

“I think that housing is the most important thing that we can talk about. All of our residents are impacted by it,” Brake says. “It is incredibly important for any community, not just ours, to realize that housing stock is important and affordability is important … Everyone involved benefits when we create a stronger and safer community.”
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Read more articles by Liz Fredendall.

Liz Fredendall is a photojournalist and communications professional with experience working with nonprofits. In addition to her work with Epicenter, Liz manages communications for the Community Foundation of St. Clair County, runs her own photography business, and writes for several publications. During her free time, Liz enjoys reading and exploring with her husband Erick and their Corgi, Nori. Contact editor@epicentermtpleasant.com or follow her on social media @lizfredendallphoto.