Southwest Solutions has been working to help relieve poverty in Detroit's Southwest neighborhood since its founding in 1970, starting with mental health services and expanding to a full range of supportive services for children and families as well as economic and community development.
Southwest Solutions offers more than 30 programs to more than 25,000 Detroit residents annually. The comprehensive programs range from affordable housing developments to early learning programs, direct support for parents to job training and placement services.
There are nearly 3,000 homeless veterans in Detroit. To help address this challenge, Southwest Solutions built Piquette Square—a 150-unit permanent housing apartment complex for transitioning veterans that doubled the number of long-term supportive housing beds available to homeless veterans in Michigan.
"I felt so bad—spiritually bankrupt—because I didn't have a job; I'm squatting in a house with my children" says Ronnell H., former Piquette Square resident and veteran, of his life before Southwest Solutions "I just thought to myself—If I were to pass or expire today, what do I have to leave my children?"
As a resident of Piquette Square, Ronnell H. was able to secure a job at Detroit's water treatment plant and return to and help his family. Piquette Square also offers comprehensive mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, on-site job training, computer labs and educational programs to help veterans.
Southwest Solutions' Adult Learning Lab helps to improve literacy and learning in Detroit, where 47 percent of adults are functionally illiterate. "They can't read well enough to read a job application," says Southwest Solutions President and CEO John Van Camp of Detroit's illiterate population. "We've got to address that, especially with the level of jobs coming into the community."
Raquel C. began attending the Adult Learning Lab to earn her GED and set an example of success for her children. "I hope my kids feel proud of me," she explains.
Felix R., a former prison inmate, received weatherization training through Southwest Solutions' green jobs program upon his release. "I got my GED. I got work, which was hard to find," he says.
Southwest Solutions' people-focused approach to creating opportunity in Detroit has become a national model for revitalizing and reviving struggling communities.
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