As of January 2018, Michigan alone has an estimated 8,531 people experiencing homelessness on any given day; 604 of them being unaccompanied young adults ranging from ages 18 to 24. Organizations like Ozone House, a non-profit that helps youth facing housing instability, are working to make a difference in the lives of these individuals.
Currently Ozone House has two locations in Ann Arbor that house and support homeless youth or youth in crisis in Washtenaw County. However, Ozone House is in the process of building a new home in Ypsilanti, just five miles down the road from their current home on Washtenaw Avenue.
With the addition of this new location, "housing will increase by 150%, allowing for 32 youth to sleep comfortably every night,“ said Allie Schachter, Ozone House’s Campaign Director.
According to Schachter, building another location has been a goal of Ozone House for many years.
“Our physical space has not kept pace with demand and must be brought up to best practices to effectively serve the youth of our community,“ Schachter said.
To build the 19,000 square-foot facility, which includes 16 bedrooms with 32 beds, without taking on any debt, Ozone House raised $4 million through their Front Door Campaign.
This past May, Ozone House received a $500,000 grant from the Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation. It was also recently awarded another $500,000 grant from a local foundation that wishes to remain anonymous; allowing the organization to reach it’s campaign goal of $5 million.
With the help of these grants and many other community supporters, construction of this new location will be completed in November 2019.
At the new location (1600 North Huron River Drive), many services will be provided including an emergency shelter, transitional housing, a 24-hour call, text and chat crisis line, counseling and their administrative offices. As of right now, 60% of the young people they assist access services beyond just housing.
Another service that Ozone House provides for Washtenaw County is an after-school Drop-In Center on Hamilton Street. This location will remain, as it is a vital service in the community where youth can go for food, incidental items, access to computers and valuable programming such as LGBTQ support, substance abuse support and career and work panels.
Ozone House is interested in getting EMU students involved by raising awareness around youth homelessness. The organization encourages students to host drives, collecting donations of toiletries, canned goods, bus tokens or gift cards.
Schacther said students interested in helping the organization can also volunteer to work the 24-hour crisis line.
If you would like to stay up to date on upcoming volunteer opportunities, visit https://ozonehouse.org/support-us/volunteer/.
Ozone House has been in the community for 50 years and will continue to benefit the community for many more. To learn more about their mission and new home, please check out this video.