Community | Fall 2019

Community Housing Network strengthens communities one family at a time

Community Housing Network
Jefferson Oaks tenants Christina Felton, Caleb Felton, and Gerald Green enjoy ice cream courtesy of the Oak Park Police Department and Office Robert Koch.
(Photo courtesy of Community Housing Network)

Community Housing Network (CHN) aims to strengthen communities by providing housing and housing resources to people who are homeless or facing homelessness, and assists those with disabilities, low incomes, and other vulnerable Southeast Michigan citizens. Its work includes homeless outreach, financial education, and housing counseling to help people get and stay in a home, says Vice President of Development Kirsten Elliott.

“People get sick, lose jobs, get in accidents,” Elliott says. “Wages haven’t kept up with the rate of inflation and the cost of housing. If you live check to check and get in an accident and have no savings, you’re on the streets.”

That's where CHN steps in.

“People want to work, but they have barriers to getting work,” says Elliott. “Our job is to help them figure out what those barriers are and then connect them to whatever resources they need to overcome them.”

A place to call home

At the end of 2018, the nonprofit opened its Jefferson Oaks multifamily development in Oak Park, adding to the 744 units it has developed or renovated since 2001. Housed in the former Thomas Jefferson School building, the development includes 20 one- and two-bedroom apartments and a community space. In addition, there are 40 three- and four-bedroom townhome-style units. Twenty-one are set aside for supportive housing, which offers on-site services supporting those who were formerly homeless or who are disabled, helping them live more stable, productive lives.

“We do all things housing,” says Elliott. “We work from homeless outreach to helping people get to better financial security to buying their own home. We go out on the street and develop relationships with people and engage with them and gain trust, then connect them with housing. The process can take many years because there can be a deep mistrust of the system, and mental health or substance abuse issues can also be a barrier to getting what they need.”

Building stronger communities

Some 75 percent of the people that Community Housing Network serves receive assistance to rent in the open market, while the remaining 25 percent of those it serves are placed in housing owned by the organization. To achieve its mission, CHN is supported by good corporate citizens such as Huntington.

“Huntington has been a long-time supporter of Community Housing Network,” says Elliott. “They have helped support our home ownership program and our financial education program through the years. They have helped us create communities, create more housing and answer the call of one of the most pressing needs in our community, which is a lack of affordable housing.”

About the organization

Name: Community Housing Network
City: Troy, Mt. Clemens and Detroit, Michigan
Phone: (248) 928-0111 (Troy office)
Mission: Community Housing Network strengthens communities by connecting people to housing resources.

How you can help


Make an impact

Learn how Huntington can help make a positive impact in the region. Contact your Huntington relationship manager.
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