Building Community: Cass Community Social Services

WRITER | NICOLETTE CHAMBERY
PHOTOS | CASS COMMUNITY SOCIAL SERVICES

Cass Community Social Services, by way of its multilateral programming, supports those in need of food, housing, job assistance, and even health services. Based in Detroit, the organization responds thoughtfully to the ever-changing needs of community members and develops ways to uplift those in need through a variety of programs.

The Cass Community food program serves approximately 700,000 people each year with help from food rescue programs such as Gleaners and Forgotten Harvest. Local establishments host food drives and contribute their donations, and Northern Michigan hunters donate a substantial amount of venison and other game meats throughout the hunting season as well. The support of these groups is critical to providing healthy meals as needed.

In addition to their food program, the Cass Community organization provides both short-term and long-term housing options for men, women, and children in need of shelter. A temporary warming shelter is open to women and children nightly between November and April. There is also an emergency shelter where women and children can stay for up to 90 days. The shelter alone houses as many as 300 people each week, year-round.

The organization also partners with churches and other nonprofits to provide a rotating source of healthy meals and clean beds during the winter months. Additionally, there is a program in place to provide permanent housing for those who are eligible.

In an effort to create more affordable housing options for the people of Detroit, Cass Community Social Services, with assistance from various members of the community, formulated a plan for a neighborhood of tiny homes. The first tiny home was opened in September 2016, and the long-term plan is to build as many as 30 more.

Low-income residents can rent a 300-square-foot home for up to seven years, at which point they have an option to buy. Each home is built on a roughly 30×100-foot lot by a mix of professional tradespeople and volunteers, and most designs include a front porch or rear deck to increase living space.

Another crucial service offered to area residents is the Cass Community Free Medical Clinic. Volunteer doctors and Wayne State University medical students staff the clinic, which offers health screenings and simple medications and arranges for pro bono procedures, as needed, for those without insurance coverage.

Cass Community Social Services is determined to help those who take advantage of their food, shelter, and medical offerings become financially stable. Green Industries was formed during the recession of 2007 to create jobs for people with significant barriers to employment. The company now employs nearly 90 people, all of whom are trained to recycle or repurpose discarded materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill or incinerator or remain strewn over vacant lots. Green Industries destroys sensitive documents for medical, legal, and financial professionals, all while improving the environment and providing vital jobs for workers with disabilities. Employees also repurpose illegally dumped tires, upcycling them into mud mats and trendy Detroit Tread sandals. Green Industries has received orders from all 50 states and four countries!

Not only do programs like those offered by Cass Community Social Services support people living in Detroit, they also improve the quality of the city itself.

Cass Community Social Services 11745 Rosa Parks Boulevard, Detroit, MI 48206 l (313) 883-2277 l CassCommunity.org