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Detroit to launch Community Health Corps


Detroit will try a new approach to help out some of its most vulnerable, isolated households, Mayor Mike Duggan announced Wednesday.

The Community Health Corps will send social workers and other professionals into people’s homes. There, they’ll assess a family’s immediate needs, and connect them to social services to assist with housing, utilities, and the like.

One of the main ideas behind the program is that many programs exist to help people with basic needs like water and housing, but the neediest households often don’t know about them, said Detroit Deputy Mayor Conrad Mallett.

“What we want to do with this particular program is go out to where those persons are and find them, rather than them having to come and find us,” Mallett said.

Case workers will also assess people’s employment needs and talents, to help connect them with jobs and educational opportunities, said Nicole Sherard-Freeman, who runs the Detroit At Work employment program.

“We will get into the trenches with Detroiters who most need it, and solve problems one at a time,” Sherard-Freeman said. “We will grind out solutions to problems one at a time.”

The city plans to start the program this fall with 160 families who have already been identified as high-need. The idea is to refine and then expand the program next year.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.