When confronted with homelessness, we look the other way, literally and metaphorically. We keep walking, drive right past, change the channel. Few of our society’s issues present themselves as directly and tragically as homelessness, and few have so long gone unsolved. It’s about time that changes.
I am attempting to create that change, and I need your support to do it.
My name is Isabel Ivanescu, and I am a high school senior at the Roeper School in Birmingham, MI. I have a consistent record of pulling off, nay, dominating, the undertakings I start. It’s not my story that matters, though, it’s those of the people houseDetroit will be helping.
People who have been knocked down by a troubled economy, a difficult past, an unfair system, or a natural disaster. People who are ready, willing, and able to work and make their own way, but who need some assistance getting back on their feet. To maximize the impact of limited funding, houseDetroit will initially target only those who need minimal support; we hope, though, to be in the position to start to service individuals who struggle with substance abuse or mental health issues within the next few years.
Why trust me with such an endeavor? 1) The record mentioned above. Anyone who knows me would tell you that I’m organized to the point of absurdity, shamelessly forward for anything of importance, and determined to kick ass in all that I do. 2) The support system provided by my school, The Roeper School. It’s a group of people who are always readily willing to help. And our alumni, faculty, and parent network extends city-, state-, and nation-wide through business, media, and non-profit work. Most of all, our founding philosophy is all about civic and community engagement.
Years ago, en route to the Detroit Institute of Arts, I saw a man on a street corner, his belongings in a plastic bag by his side, a cardboard sign in his hand. He stood not more than twenty feet from an abandoned home. To a ten year old with little understanding of the conceptions of bureaucracy and private property, the solution to both problems seemed startlingly clear: the man should get the house. Really, the solution is startlingly clear. There is no reason that so many should suffer at the hands of systemic inefficiency. There is no reason that we should give in to it.
In short: houseDetroit will give the homeless houses that are going unused. In partnership with other local organizations, we will buy empty properties, restore and renovate them, and transform them from eyesore to endowment. To best make use of the structures in the area, we will buy only houses with 3 or more bedrooms; each will then be home to several individuals with personal rooms and communal living areas. This system will ideally provide a transition from public shelters to private home ownership. Meanwhile, the stability conferred by the ‘housing-first’ approach will be conducive to tenants finding or maintaining jobs and saving to begin living independently.
Our funding period lasts 36 days. On that note, please show your support and share this project as soon as possible!
Everything from property purchase to move in is slated to happen this spring and summer.
Because 2000 people die of exposure on American streets every year.
Because the shelter system can’t do enough. Though shelters in Detroit perform important, honorable work, they don’t service every need. In fact, Detroit shelters have more than enough beds for all the city’s homeless, yet three quarters of them go unoccupied as a result of regulations on who can and can’t stay. Shelters simply weren’t designed to get people off the streets in the long-term. A housing-first approach that starts on the small scale can shift the paradigm.
Because this can work. Housing-first initiatives in Seattle and Salt Lake City have provided proof of concept, and an impromptu community-run effort in Portland definitively showed that the power of the grassroots is not to be underestimated. (Look at the bottom of the page for links to more information about these operations.)
Because we have to do more than avert our eyes from the unpleasant truth. Recall the unsettling feeling you have every time you ignore the homeless person sitting under the highway overpass, and imagine, then, how they must feel, their reality so vastly worse than yours.
Time for some details.
We hope to raise $80,000 to be used approximately as follows:
- $20,000 to purchase a house (Detroit’s depressed property values will be beneficial, for once)
- $20,000 for restoration and renovation of said home
- $30,000 to provide for the basic needs and possible job training of those housed until they can do so themselves
- $10,000 for incidental costs including production and shipment of perks (they’re pretty great!) and Indiegogo processing fees (not so great, albeit a necessary evil…)
If for some unfortunate reason we do not meet our fundraising goal, proceeds, depending on amount will either be used to complete as much of this as possible before a new round of fundraising or donated to an organization making similar efforts. If for some wonderful reason we raise more than expected, we will be able to do even more to address homelessness.
We need your backing make this happen! Please, please, please consider contributing or sharing this campaign.
Feel free to email isabel.ivanescu@houseDetroit.us or use our contact form, if you want more information or would like to offer your assistance!