EMU receives $361K grant to support low-income Ypsilanti families

The Kresge Foundation has given Eastern Michigan University a $361,000 grant to expand programs for low-income families living in Ypsilanti housing projects.

The grant will support the Ypsilanti Family Empowerment Program, a community effort that began in 2012 to help families living in the award-winning Hamilton Crossing development on Ypsilanti’s south side. According to EMU, the effort allows families to “connect more effectively with the economic, educational and health resources in the broader community.”

Some of the services offered to the families include tutoring, college prep advising, computer resources and job-seeking assistance. According to a program survey of the residents, the effort has shown “marked results.”

Through the project, the Parkview apartment complex at the corner of South Hamilton and Harriet Streets, north of I-94, has been rejuvenated.

The funding will help 70 families in Hamilton Crossing and will be implemented with 86 families living in Parkridge Homes. The grant will also be used to support the Kresge-sponsored Strong Families Fund initiative that helps more than 100 families around Ypsilanti.

Parkridge Homes will be demolished and replaced with 86 units of mostly duplex housing through the Ypsilanti Housing Commission. Some of the units will be reserved for those in need of permanent supportive housing.

“These initiatives will help in continuing to transform the economic and community life in the city of Ypsilanti, offering an opportunity to reshape of the city’s neediest neighborhoods, brings employment and educational resources to adults in this community, and positively launch the lives of their children,” said Russ Olwell, director of the Institute for the Study of Children, Families and Communities at EMU, in a statement.

The FEP is an organization that utilizes EMU and community resources to meet the needs of residents. The partners include EMU’s School of Social Work, the United Way of Washtenaw County, Washtenaw County and SOS Community services.

Pam Smith, president and CEO of the United Way of Washtenaw County, said in a statement the organization “is a proud partner of Eastern Michigan University."

“The program’s initial success is now being leveraged and replicated to help more families find a pathway to self-sufficiency,” Smith said. “Funders are looking for models like that, and it’s a testament to EMU’s ability to build community.”

According to EMU, other benefits of the FEP program include:

More than one third of Hamilton Crossing residents are pursuing educational goals at a range of levels from GED to a Master of Social Work degree.

Access to affordable medical and dental care has increased for residents.

The crime rate at Hamilton Crossing has dropped measurably.

Unlike the Hamilton Crossing program, participation by Parkridge and Strong Housing residents will be voluntary - a key variable in studying the results of the program.

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