Traverse City Record-Eagle


January 24, 2008

Goodwill support helps clients succeed in permanent homes

TRAVERSE CITY -- Patrick Rachels suffered a spate of bad luck that brought him to the Goodwill Inn Homeless Shelter.

But following his six-month stay, Rachels began to rebound with a lift from the agency's Supportive Housing Services. The program assists with a variety of tasks tailored to fit each client, including help for shelter residents looking for their own place.

"There's no climbing out of a hole without some help ...," said Rachels, 51.

Program officials contacted a landlord so Rachels could move out of the shelter and into his own Traverse City apartment in November of 2006. He continues to meet monthly with housing services personnel.

"Basically, they just see that you are getting along all right," he said. "They are there for you, even if you've just got something going on and you want to talk about it."

Part of the philosophy behind the program is to push people to succeed so they don't return to the shelter or become homeless again.

"Once we got them housing before, they were on their own," said Ken Homa, director of housing services for Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan.

The service took off about a year and half ago and is supported through federal and state housing dollars. A case manager meets with clients and develops a service plan and offers ongoing aid such as bill payment reminders, help with rental unit upkeep and working with landlords.

Foundation for Mental Health Grand Traverse/Leelanau works with Goodwill to provide on-site services to tenants at an 11-unit facility on Woodmere Avenue. Foundation executive director Carol Moorman said residents must meet special needs, low income and homeless criteria. Tenants receive help with budgeting and transportation, among other services.

The supportive housing program currently assists about 20 individuals and families, mostly in Grand Traverse County, said Cindy Eveleigh, Goodwill's housing services manager.

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